Predicting Psychosis in Youth
According to the largest study of its kind, high-risk youth who will develop psychotic illness can be identified before their illness becomes full-blown up to 80 percent of the time. In the report, published in the Archives of General
Psychiatry and funded primarily by NIMH, researchers found that youth with a median age of 16 who are going to develop psychosis
can be identified 35 percent of the time if they meet widely accepted criteria for risk; this number rises to 65 to 80 percent if they have certain combinations of risk factors such as deteriorating social functioning, family history of psychosis and past or current drug abuse. Scientists said the ability to identify youth who are likely to develop psychosis could eventually
help determine the most effective time for interventions.
|Asking patients in emergency
departments about their alcohol use and talking with them about how to reduce harmful drinking patterns can effectively lower rates of risky drinking in these patients.
The Effect of Talking on Drinking
Asking patients in emergency departments about their alcohol use and talking with them about how to reduce harmful drinking patterns can effectively
lower rates of risky drinking in these patients. A nationwide, collaborative study supported in part by NIAAA showed that emergency department patients who underwent a regimen of alcohol screening and brief intervention
reported lower rates of risky drinking at a 3-month follow-
up than did those who only received written information about reducing their drinking. Researchers concluded that widespread use of the techniques used in the study by emergency personnel could significantly reduce unhealthy alcohol use. The findings were published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
Brain Injuries and PTSD
A study from NINDS and the National Naval Medical Center with combat-exposed Vietnam war veterans shows that those with injuries to certain parts of the brain were less likely
to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Twenty to 30 percent of Vietnam vets have been diagnosed with the disorder, which involves the persistent reliving of traumatic experiences through nightmares and flashbacks that may seem real. And while war and natural disasters tend to call the greatest attention to PTSD, it’s also found in victims of assault, rape, child abuse, car accidents and other traumatic events. The new findings, published online in Nature Neuroscience, suggest that drugs or pacemaker-
like devices aimed at dampening activity in certain brain regions might be effective treatments
for the disorder.
New Biomarker Discovery for Liver Cancer
Research conducted in part by NCI shows that a unique pattern of microRNAs, or small RNA molecules that regulate gene activity, can accurately
predict whether liver cancer will spread and whether liver cancer patients will have shorter or longer survival—even in patients with early-stage disease. Published online in Hepatology, the study is beneficial, scientists said, because identifying new biomarkers for liver cancer is a first step in alleviating the dismal
outcome of the disease. The rate of new cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common liver cancer diagnosed in adults, has been rising over the last 10 years in the U.S. and is very aggressive. This research suggests a real potential for increasing the accuracy of liver
cancer diagnosis and prognosis, as well as in monitoring recurrence.
A Factor in How Bird Flu Could Spread
In an NIGMS-supported study, scientists identified
a key factor that determines the ability of influenza viruses to infect cells of the human upper respiratory tract, a necessary step for sustaining spread between people. This study, published online in Nature Biotechnology, provides
new insights into how the H5N1 avian flu virus would have to change in order to gain a foothold in human populations. Experts agree that to trigger a widespread outbreak, the bird flu virus must infect cells lining our noses and throats. The new research adds to this by showing
the virus can gain access only through a subset
of the sugar molecules coating the cells of our upper airways. This knowledge could point to new therapeutic targets for both seasonal and pandemic flu.—