November 2012

Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough with Nanoparticle

In a breakthrough for nanotechnology and multiple sclerosis, a biodegradable nanoparticle turns out to be the perfect vehicle to stealthily deliver an antigen that tricks the immune system into stopping its attack on myelin and halt a model of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

The new nanotechnology also can be applied to a variety of immune-mediated diseases including, Type 1 diabetes, food allergies, and airway allergies such as asthma.

Health Care Reform Update: In Maps and Charts!

The re-election of President Obama ensured that the Affordable Care Act  will move forward in 2013. In the coming months and years American’s will see a series of sweeping changes that begin with state-level action for health care reform, impacting millions of American women.

However, with each passing day it seems that more and more states and policymakers are changing their minds about what the respective plans are for the future.

Preexisting conditions and the ACA

As many as 129 million–or 1 in 2–non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition, ranging from a life-threatening illness like cancer to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma.   In most states, these individuals can be denied individual health insurance coverage or have benefits for certain conditions excluded by insurance companies.   Even if some small groups desire to cover all conditions, there is little that can be done to prevent exorbitant premium increases.

Memory like the telephone game

Remember the telephone game where people take turns whispering a message into the ear of the next person in line? By the time the last person speaks it out loud, the message has radically changed. It’s been altered with each retelling.

Turns out your memory is a lot like the telephone game, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.   Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time you remember it, you might recall not the original event, but what you remembered the previous time. The Northwestern study is the first to show this.

Thanksgiving and Lincoln

Last week the epic movie Lincoln was released in the United States.   My husband, a historian and huge fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin whose book Team of Rivals contributed greatly to the screenplay of the movie, went to see it last weekend!  But what does this movie have to do with Thanksgiving, you ask?    First, many families go to movies over the long Thanksgiving holiday, and I strongly recommend this one—you actually learn something about our history and that political intrigue is not a modern phenomena !

Narrowing the Racial Disparity Gap in Breast Cancer Outcomes

Regular mammography screening can help narrow the breast cancer gap between black and white women.

Earlier studies have shown that black women in Chicago are more than twice as likely to die of breast cancer compared to white women. Black women with breast cancer reach the disease’s late stages more often than white women, and their tumors are more likely to be larger and more biologically aggressive.

But according to the study, when women of both races received regular breast cancer screening — a mammogram within two years of breast cancer diagnosis — there was no difference in the rate of how many of them presented in the disease’s later stages.

Affordable Care Act See New Hurdles with Contraception

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has cleared two major hurdles in the recent past: the Supreme Court ruling on constitutionality and the reelection of President Obama. However, there is a very good chance that the Supreme Court has not seen the last of the health care reform law. Despite the bill’s legal successes in the past, there are (at publication) more than 35 different cases on file against the contraception mandate in the bill filed by individual companies and religious organizations.

Thanks to the health care law, insurance plans are required to cover birth control and other women’s preventive health services with no co-payments or deductibles at the start of their next plan year. For proponents of the bill, this means more health plans come under the law’s reach, and that more women will be able to keep their wallets closed when they pick up their birth control.

Prenatal alcohol drinking linked to childhood brain development

Heavy drinking during pregnancy disrupts proper brain development in children and adolescents years after they were exposed to alcohol in the womb, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. The study is the first to track children over several years to examine how heavy exposure to alcohol in utero affects brain growth over time.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, researchers found that brain growth patterns in children whose mothers drank heavily while pregnant differed from normal patterns of development seen in children who were not exposed to alcohol before birth.