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Esteban Delisio






    Scientists at Purdue University are developing a biological sensor for glucose. They say the research may one day lead to the design of intelligent drug delivery devices that could be implanted in the body to administer medications such as insulin. The team created a mesh-like "biomimetic" gel that contains glucose molecules. They removed the glucose, leaving the empty space behind. If placed in a liquid such as blood, glucose diffuses into the gel and binds to the empty spaces. The gel then becomes "imprinted" for glucose molecules. Similar materials might be used in future medical devices to sense the presence of glucose. It may then release insulin or other medications for diabetics, said study author Mark Byrne. "I'd be the first one to say that we have a lot of work to do, but our findings so far are very encouraging," Byrne said. He presented the findings at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Chicago.
    Doctors have discovered that estrogen patches may help improve memory in women with Alzheimer's disease. The results of the study of 20 women with mild to moderate Alzheimer's were published in the journal Neurology. "These results are hopeful, but they need to be confirmed with larger studies with more participants and longer treatment times," said study author Dr. Sanjay Asthana, who conducted the study at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Tacoma, Wash., and is now at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison. Previously, some studies suggested estrogen may help relieve memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer's. But several large studies disproved those findings. Asthana's study used estradiol, a type of estrogen shown to have an effect on the brain. Other studies used a compound that contains low doses of estradiol along with other forms of estrogen that have not been proven to have an effect on the brain, he said.
    Generic drugs may cause problems for patients with epilepsy, a study indicates. To save costs, many states and health plans have required pharmacists to fill prescriptions with the least expensive available drug, often a generic one. "In many cases, the drugs are interchangeable," said study author and neurologist Dr. B.J. Wilder, professor emeritus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. "But for some epilepsy medications, switching products can result in toxic side effects or loss of seizure control." His study analyzed the effects of generic and brand-name versions of the drug phenytoin on a full stomach. The results were published in the journal Neurology. Phenytoin is the most widely used epilepsy drug in the United States. The drug's unique properties make it more likely that changes in the formulation can alter the amount of the drug absorbed into the bloodstream, Wilder said. "Unlike many other drugs, phenytoin does not respond in the body i! n a linear fashion," Wilder said.
    Folic acid and vitamin B12 may be good for the heart and reduce the risk of deaths from heart disease, researchers say. "The evidence for the beneficial effects of vitamins B12 and folic acid is much stronger than for garlic, vitamin E and other dietary supplements promoted for heart disease prevention," said Dr. Jeffrey Tice, principal investigator of the study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association and University of California, San Francisco, assistant adjunct professor of medicine. Researchers studied data on the U.S population's homocysteine levels. These indicate heart disease risk and associated death. Past studies have shown people with modestly elevated homocysteine levels have higher rates of stroke, heart attack and death from heart disease. Assuming the U.S. population consumes its daily dose of grains enriched with folic acid over a 10-year period, the authors estimate that heart disease rates and deaths will decrease by 8 ! percent in women and 13 percent in men.
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