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Vol. LIX, No. 13
October 6, 2006
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Digest

Dog owners who regularly walk their pooches had a lower body mass index, weighing about 6 pounds less than dog owners who don't walk their dogs.  
   
Dog owners who regularly walk their pooches had a lower body mass index, weighing about 6 pounds less than dog owners who don't walk their dogs.  
 
Faster Trials for Alzheimer's

Early results from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a public-private research partnership organized by NIH and supported by NIA, show that Alzheimer's researchers may be able to reduce the time and expense associated with clinical trials. Presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia held in Washington this month, these preliminary findings from ADNI show how it might yield improved methods and uniform standards for imaging and biomarker analysis, enabling these techniques to be employed in the fight against the disease.

On the Cancer Case

According to scientists from NIDCD and NCI, among other collaborators, a blood test that detects proteins commonly released by a growing tumor could eventually become a useful tool for monitoring the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatment in people with advanced throat cancer. The study, published in the June 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, found that throat cancer patients who showed a decline in several cancer-related proteins following chemotherapy and radiation treatment were more likely to remain in remission, while those who experienced a large rise over time in those proteins often exhibited a throat cancer return. Researchers say these findings could help lead to the development of a blood test that allows doctors to detect the recurrence of throat cancer early on, when a second line of treatment-such as surgery or drug therapy- is still viable.

New Insights into Tumor Development

Meanwhile, NCI researchers have discovered a set of genes that are turned on-or expressed- at high levels only in the blood vessels that feed tumors in mice and humans. Published in the June issue of Cancer Cell, the findings offer new insights into an important aspect of tumor development. These genes, and the proteins they encode, aren't just of scientific interest; they're important new potential targets for novel drugs that could selectively cut off a tumor's blood supply without affecting the blood vessels of healthy tissues, overcoming one of the major concerns of current anticancer therapies targeted at blood vessel growth.

Potential Relief for Fibromyalgia Pain

New NIAMS-supported research shows that gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication used for certain types of seizures, can be an effective treatment for pain and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, a common disorder that is often difficult to treat. The results of the research, published in the April issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, showed that in a clinical trial, those participants taking gabapentin at dosages of 1,200 to 2,400 mg daily for 12 weeks displayed significantly less pain than those taking a placebo, and also reported significantly better sleep and less fatigue. Previous research had shown that the medication had a robust effect on pain caused by a heightened response to stimuli related to inflammation of nerve injury in animal models of chronic pain syndromes; the new research indicates it has the same effect in people with fibromyalgia. The chronic disorder affects 3 million to 6 million Americans, mostly women.

Staying Fit with Fido

Finally, dogs have earned one more gold star supporting their "man's best friend" reputation. In a San Diego State University study funded by NIH, researchers reported that dog owners who walk their pets are more active and less overweight than those who don't. In fact, of the dog owners in the study-a larger project surveying physical activity in different kinds of neighborhoods- those who regularly walk Spike and Daisy had a lower body mass index, weighing about 6 pounds less than dog owners who don't walk their dogs. The CDC recommends that people get 2.5 hours of physical activity each week; walking their dogs helped 43 percent of the dog-owning, dog-walking study participants meet that goal.-

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