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Vol. LXIV, No. 23
November 9, 2012
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Digest

Bacterial Protein in House Dust Spurs Asthma, NIH Study Shows

photo of a mon holding her baby and a sign that says " How is the air quality in your home?
A bacterial protein in common house dust may worsen allergic responses to indoor allergens, according to research conducted by NIH and Duke University.

A bacterial protein in common house dust may worsen allergic responses to indoor allergens, according to research conducted by NIH and Duke University. The finding is the first to document the presence of the protein flagellin in house dust, bolstering the link between allergic asthma and the environment.

Scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Duke Medical Center published their findings in people and mice online Oct. 14 in the journal Nature Medicine.

“Most people with asthma have allergic asthma, resulting largely from allergic responses to inhaled substances,” said the paper’s corresponding author Dr. Donald Cook, an NIEHS scientist. His research team began the study to identify environmental factors that amplify the allergic responses. “Although flagellin is not an allergen, it can boost allergic responses to true allergens.”

Researchers Identify Novel Genes That May Drive Rare, Aggressive Uterine Cancer

Researchers have identified several genes that are linked to one of the most lethal forms of uterine cancer, serous endometrial cancer. The researchers describe how three of the genes found in the study are frequently altered in the disease, suggesting that the genes drive the development of tumors. The findings appeared in the Oct. 28 advance online issue of Nature Genetics. The team was led by researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Cancer of the uterine lining, or endometrium, is the most commonly diagnosed gynecological malignancy in the United States. Also called endometrial cancer, it is diagnosed in about 47,000 American women and leads to about 8,000 deaths each year.

Each of its three major subtypes—endometrioid, serous and clear-cell—is caused by a different constellation of genetic alterations and has a different prognosis. Endometrioid tumors make up about 80 percent of diagnosed tumors. Surgery often is a complete cure for women with the endometrioid subtype, since doctors usually diagnose these cases at an early stage.

Compared to other subtypes, the 2 to 10 percent of uterine cancers that comprise the serous subtype do not respond well to therapies. The 5-year survival rate for serous endometrial cancer is 45 percent, compared to 65 percent for clear-cell and 91 percent for endometrioid subtypes. Serous and clear-cell endometrial tumor subtypes are clinically aggressive and quickly advance beyond the uterus.

“Serous endometrial tumors can account for as much as 39 percent of deaths from endometrial cancer,” said Dr. Daphne Bell, an NHGRI investigator and the paper’s senior author. She said the discovery “really changes our understanding of some of the genetic alterations that may contribute to this disease.” She noted that it is too early to make a direct connection between their findings and prospects for treatments for this aggressive form of uterine cancer.

Weight Loss Does Not Lower Heart Disease Risk From Type 2 Diabetes

An intensive diet and exercise program resulting in weight loss does not reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in people with longstanding type 2 diabetes, according to a study supported by NIH.

The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study tested whether a lifestyle intervention resulting in weight loss would reduce rates of heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular-related deaths in overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes, a group at increased risk for these events.

Researchers at 16 centers across the United States worked with 5,145 people, with half randomly assigned to receive an intensive lifestyle intervention and the other half to a general program of diabetes support and education. Both groups received routine medical care from their own health care providers.

Although the intervention did not reduce cardiovascular events, Look AHEAD has shown other important health benefits of the lifestyle intervention, including decreasing sleep apnea, reducing the need for diabetes medications, helping to maintain physical mobility and improving quality of life.

“Look AHEAD found that people who are obese and have type 2 diabetes can lose weight and maintain their weight loss with a lifestyle intervention,” said Dr. Rena Wing, chair of the Look AHEAD study and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University. “Although the study found weight loss had many positive health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, the weight loss did not reduce the number of cardiovascular events.”


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