Thursday, August 17, 2006

migraine news roundup 11

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The results of this study illuminate the possible impact of an individual's genetic code on the successfulness of treatment for depression:

Study Shows Genes Could Be Factor in Treatment of Depression
The study, dubbed the STAR*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives for Depression) trial, showed that 47 percent of the 2,876 patients showed improvement with the antidepressant, Celexa, which is known as an SSRI, or seratonin selective reuptake inhibitor. The goal of the STAR*D trial was to effective figure out why some people respond better to antidepressants than others.

According to the study, patients who retain two copies of one version of a gene that codes for a part of the mood-regulating system in the brain instigated a more favorable response in anti-depressant therapy by 18 percent. Patients who had two copies of the more common version of the gene had a considerably less favorable response.

The researchers looked at genetic material from 1,953 patients. They searched for a significant association between how patients fared in treatment and 768 sites of variability in 68 genes -sites where letters in the genetic code vary across individuals, said the study.

What was found showed the strongest connection between the two factors in the gene that codes for the serotonin 2A receptor, which is located on the cortex of the brain. The serotonin 2A receptor is one of the proteins to which serotonin binds itself as brain cells communicate, according to the study. Antidepressants reduce the number of the serotonin 2A receptors in the cortex of an animal in just a few weeks, which suggests that in humans, the serotonin 2A receptors are important factors in how the drugs work in the brain.
Researchers believe it is too early to know whether these findings will have an impact on the way depression is treated. They say further study is needed, but encourage the examination of serotonin receptors, not just serotonin delivery, in the development of new treatments.

Missing your favorite red? I'm not sure I feel comfortable with genetically-modified ingredients in my food, but I do miss feeling free to periodically indulge in a glass of sangria.

Biotech finds wine headache relief
The U.S. wine industry has entered the world of genetic engineering as some vintners experiment with a strain of yeast designed to eliminate chemicals in red wine that are believed to trigger headaches, including migraines, in some people.

A follow-up to a news item I previously posted:

Teen wins court battle to stop chemo
A 16-year-old cancer patient's legal fight ended in victory Wednesday when his family's attorneys and social services officials reached an agreement that would allow him to forgo chemotherapy.

At the start of what was scheduled to be a two-day hearing, Circuit Judge Glen A. Tyler announced that both sides had reached a consent decree, which Tyler approved.

Under the decree, Starchild Abraham Cherrix, who is battling Hodgkin's disease, will be treated by an oncologist of his choice who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatments.

The family must provide the court updates on Abraham's treatment and condition every three months until he's cured or turns 18.
I'm so pleased for this family - and for all of us - that they're being left alone to make the health care decisions they determine to be appropriate.

The New York Times had this great article earlier this week about how to improve your communication with your doctor:

Patient Power: Making Sure Your Doctor Really Hears You
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Virginia Teas Gill, a medical sociologist at Illinois State University, said the number of encounters that require a negotiation between the doctor and the patient seemed to be on the rise.

This is not just because of the time and financial squeezes imposed on every visit by health insurance companies but also because new therapies and sensitive scans and tests are permitting diagnosis and treatment for many diseases much earlier than ever before. Lumpectomy or mastectomy? Injectable insulin or a pump? Statins or simply more exercise and less food?

In many cases, Dr. Gill said, when and whether to treat has become as legitimately debatable as what treatment to use.

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