NIH Human Microbiome Project Defines Normal Bacterial Makeup of the Body

Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. For the first time, a consortium of researchers organized by the National Institutes of Health has mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans, producing numerous insights and even a few surprises.

Human microbiome

Evidence of Basis for Caregiving Impulse Seen in NIH Brain Imaging Study

Distinct patterns of activity, which may indicate a predisposition to care for infants, appear in the brains of adults who view an image of an infant face, even when the child is not theirs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Germany, Italy, and Japan. Seeing images of infant faces appeared to activate in the adult’s brains circuits that reflect preparation for movement and speech as well as feelings of reward.

Infant face

Gene Expression Can Predict the Survival of Lymphoma Patients

ResearchBlogging.orgA study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine identified sets of genes in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma that influence the effectiveness of chemotherapy [1]. Researchers found that the tumor microenvironment, consisting of non-cancerous immune and structural cells along with tumor cells, has a significant influence on a patient’s response to treatment.

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #13 – Stand Up To Cancer

Welcome to the 13th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, the blog carnival devoted to cancer research.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.

Everyone knows that cancer is a devastating disease. What many people don’t know is that cancer kills more than 1,500 people a day; that’s one person every minute. Tonight, Stand Up To Cancer, a one-hour fundraising event, will be simulcast on all three major U.S. networks. The goal of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is to enable cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure to all types of cancer and making cancer part of the national debate.

Since 2001, federal deficits resulting from a number of fiscal pressures, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, increased national defense spending and hurricane Katrina, have together placed significant stress on the resources available for U.S. biomedical research. Between the fiscal years 2004 and 2007, the National Cancer Institute’s budget remained relatively flat. However, factoring in inflation (i.e. a Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI) of ~3.8% per year) reveals a 12% loss of purchasing power [1].

This decrease in resources comes as patient demand is growing. There was an estimated 1.5 million new cancer cases in 2007, an increase of 14% since 2001 [2]. The U.S. spends roughly $12 billion dollars every month fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s 33 times more than what is spent on cancer research annually. Imagine what we could do if just a fraction of those resources was dedicated to cancer research.

Lack of Health Insurance Increases Risk of Cancer Death

ResearchBlogging.orgWith all the recent discussion and debate by the presidential candidates regarding healthcare issues, I thought a study published last month in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians was quite timely. The study, titled Association of Insurance with Cancer Care Utilization and Outcomes, presents evidence that lack of adequate health insurance coverage is associated with reduced access to care and poorer outcomes for cancer patients [1]. The article further presents data on the association between health insurance status and screening, stage at diagnosis and survival for breast and colorectal cancer.