Responding to an Outbreak
||A transmission electron micrograph of an ultra-thin specimen reveals some features seen in 1918 influenza virus virions.
Photo by CDC/C.S. Goldsmith and T. Tumpey
The power to quit tobacco may be in our genetic makeup. Scientists supported by NIDA have for the first time identified genes that might increase a person's ability to abstain from smoking. Published
in the journal BMC Genetics, the study's data came from a genome-wide analysis of the DNA of two types of nicotine-dependent individuals:
one who could successfully quit smoking
cigarettes and one who could not. Researchers identified 221 genes that distinguished the successful
quitters. This knowledge could help health care providers choose the most appropriate treatments
in smoking-cessation programs, leading to a greater quitting success rate.
Targeting Lung Cancer in Mice
Meanwhile, researchers at NCI have found that rapamycin, an FDA-approved immunosuppressant
drug, can be highly effective in preventing the development of tobacco-related lung tumors in mice. The study, published in the Apr. 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, found that mice that were administered rapamycin 1 week after exposure
to a common, tobacco-specific carcinogen showed a 90 percent decrease in the number of tumors, a notable decrease in tumor size and fewer abnormalities within cancer cells. The work also showed that mTOR, a protein that rapamycin targets, plays a critical role in the early developmental
stages of certain lung tumors caused by tobacco exposure.
News in the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
For people with bipolar disorder who are depressed and taking a mood stabilizer, adding
an antidepressant medication is no more effective than taking a placebo, or sugar pill. These findings, from a study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine in March, are part of a the large-scale Systematic Treatment
Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder
(STEP-BD) clinical trial funded by NIMH. Another STEP-BD study, published in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, showed that intensive psychotherapy is more effective than brief therapy for treating bipolar depression. If people who take medications for bipolar disorder receive intensive psychotherapy,
the research showed, they are more likely to have a faster and lasting recovery. Both studies add to researchers' knowledge of identifying the best treatment tools to use in the fight against symptoms of this illness.
Hormone Therapy, Heart Disease
New findings suggest that the effect of hormone
therapy on the risk of heart disease may vary in women by age and proximity to menopause.
Secondary analyses of results from the NHLBI-funded Women's Health Initiative suggest
that if women begin hormone therapy within 10 years of menopause, they may have less risk of coronary heart disease due to the therapy than women farther away from the onset of menopause. These findings, published in the Apr. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, did not meet statistical significance,
but they do suggest that health consequences
of hormone therapy may vary by the amount of time from menopause.
Small Dogs, Big Findings
And here's proof we can learn something from man's best friend. A team led by NHGRI recently identified a genetic variant that's a major contributor to small size in dogs. The findings, published in the Apr. 6 issue of Science,
are exciting, according to researchers, because the underlying gene, that's present in all dogs, is also present in humans. This points to the great potential for research in understanding
the inheritance of traits, including those that influence health and disease.-