Nasal flu vaccine works better for kids

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Children given a flu vaccine by nasal spray were better protected against the disease than those given the old shot in the arm, according to new research in the most recent New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, which followed nearly 8,500 children in 16 countries, found the vaccine sniffed up the nose reduced the influenza "attack rate" in children by 55 percent compared to the traditional injections.

The attack rate is the number of people who get sick compared to the total number of people in a study group.

"Children get the flu twice as often as adults," said Dr. Robert Belshe of St. Louis University, the study's lead author. "It's important to vaccinate kids against influenza -- and to identify new and more effective flu vaccine options -- because kids have a higher attack rate for influenza infection than adults."

Belshe said the nasal flu vaccine may be more effective because it fights the flu bug not only in the bloodstream, but also in the nose, where the disease may first try to invade the body. In addition, Belshe found children given the nasal spray vaccine had significantly fewer ear infections associated with the flu.

The study, funded by MedImmune, which makes the FluMist nasal spray vaccine, is the largest of its kind ever done.

Abdominal aneurysms

Enzyme discorvery may lead to remedy

Researchers at Washington University hope a new discovery will lead to a radically new treatment for potentially fatal abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Those aneurysms are weak spots in the wall of the body's main artery that can dilate over time. If that weak spot suddenly ruptures, death comes quickly. Currently, surgery is the only treatment once an aneurysm is found.

But the St. Louis researchers have found a key enzyme that that triggers chronic inflammation in the aorta, promoting the growth of an aneurysm. By finding a drug that acts on that enzyme, doctors hope that they can prevent small aneurysms from enlarging to the point where they require a surgical fix.

"We think DPPI (dpeptidyl peptidase I) is a viable therapeutic target that may keep the growth of aortic aneurysms in check, so they don't become life-threatening," said Dr. Robert Thompson, one of the senior researchers.

Already, Thompson and his colleagues have found that specially bred mice which lack DPPI do not develop aortic aneurysms.

When Isaac Daniel was informed by his son's school that the 8-year-old was missing, Dad was understandably frantic.

Fortunately, by the time he cut short his business trip in New York to fly back to Atlanta, he found that it had all been a miscommunication. But it immediately led to a brilliant idea: Designing tennis shoes that come with a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) chip.

Next month, a line of adult sneakers called Quantum Satellite Technology, are expected to hit store shelves. They come with a hefty price tag of $350, but they promise to locate the wearer anywhere in the world with the press of a button. A children's line expected to be added this summer.

The sneakers work when the wearer presses a button on the shoe to activate the GPS chip. A wireless alert detailing the location is sent to a 24-hour monitoring service that costs an additional $20 a month. In some emergencies, a parent, spouse or guardian can call the service as well.

Don't worry, teens -- parents can't call the service just to check up on you. If they do, they'll incur all law enforcement costs.

Lonely individuals may be twice as likely to develop the type of dementia linked to Alzheimer's disease as those who are not lonely, according to this month's issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers at Rush University in Chicago analyzed the association between loneliness and Alzheimer's in 823 people with an average age of 80.7. Assessing loneliness on a scale of one to five, they found that the risk for developing Alzheimer's increased approximately 51 percent for each point higher they were on the loneliness score.

The link between loneliness and Alzheimer's, however, is unclear. Loneliness was not associated with the characteristic brain plaques or "tangles" associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"In human beings, loneliness has been associated with impaired social skills," the study suggested. "Thus, neural systems underlying social behavior might be less elaborated in lonely persons and, as a result, be less able to compensate for other neural systems compromised by age-related (disease)."

There might be good news in the offing for frequent fliers: Scientists in California and Michigan say they are getting closer to a machine that will screen airline passengers for explosive, chemical and biological threats at the same time.

In previous research, George R. Farquar and his colleagues tested the effectiveness of a system that could detect chemical and biological agents. The new research includes several kinds of explosives that have been used worldwide in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other terrorist attacks.

They say the new scanner has the potential to detect the presence of explosives even if only one dust-speck-sized particle weighing one trillionth of a gram.

When it comes to heart disease, you may be smarter than your doctor -- and that's not necessarily a good thing.

A new study by the California Pistachio Commission found that 59 percent of women and 44 percent of men know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Moreover, 27 percent of women said they feel protected against heart disease because they see their doctor regularly.

But that trust may be misplaced. According to an American Heart Association study from 2005, only 8 percent of primary care physicians and 17 percent of cardiologists knew that heart disease kills more women than men.

"Perhaps today's physicians are more aware about the issue since the AHA study was published two years ago, but millions of at-risk women are relying on their doctor to know ALL the facts about women's heart disease," said Dr. Susan Bennett, president of the Association of Women's Heart Programs.

"There needs to be more of an emphasis on reaching the medical community with the message of prevention and treatment."

In the meantime, the new study showed half or more of the 1,000 women questioned were watching their diet, exercising and not smoking. Still, 32 percent said they had high blood pressure and 28 percent had high cholesterol, risk factors for heart disease.

Putting the squeeze on milk may be the long-sought solution to killing bacteria and increasing the beverage's shelf life without introducing unwanted flavors.

Michael Qian at Oregon State University says ultrahigh-temperature pasteurization (UHT) does produce milk that stays fresh at room temperature for six months. However, the process leaves a "cooked" flavor that has limited its popularity in the United States.

Now, in experiments published in a recent Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Qian and his colleague describe how high hydrostatic pressure processing (HPP) can crush bacteria without affecting flavor.

"Milk processed at a pressure of about 85,000 pounds per square inch for five minutes, and lower temperatures than used in commercial pasteurization, causes minimal production of chemical compounds responsible for the cooked flavor," they reported. "HPP gives milk a shelf life at refrigerated temperatures of at least 45 days."

 

Source: BelleVille News-Democrat