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Anchor lead: Cancer cells may utilize epigenetic changes even more than normal cells, Elizabeth Tracey reports

DNA is modified by actual changes in the sequence, known as mutations, and by so-called epigenetic changes, which use certain chemical groups to turn genes on or off. Now research by Andy Feinberg and John Goutsias at Johns Hopkins has shown that these epigenetic changes occur in a specific pattern in normal cells but become very disorganized in a cancer cell.

Feinberg: One of the most important aspects of cancer is that it has a very high degree of variability. One of the main things that really defines what a cancer is is that the epigenetic code becomes very variable, and that allows for tumor cells to have many different properties. We call that tumor cell heterogeneity. So that when the tumor gets exposed to different environments it’s much easier for the tumor cell to adapt to its environment if there’s a certain randomness in which genes are going to be turned on and off. :31

Feinberg says inhibition of this process may be a likely target to reduce a cancer’s ability to adapt and outwit many therapies. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Modifications to DNA may help cells adapt, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Epi is a prefix that means on top of, and so-called epigenetic changes, those made on top of DNA, are known to be involved in many cellular processes. Now research by Andy Feinberg and John Goutsias at Johns Hopkins has shown that this process may help cells adapt to changing conditions.

Feinberg: We could identify whole regions of the genome that have a greater degree of random things happening in how the genes are going to work compared to other portions of the genome. We call that entropy, this sort of randomness of what it’s going to do. So we would find a block of genes that have a high entropy and then next to that is a block of genes that have low entropy. And next to that is a block of genes that have a high entropy again. And that variability I think has something very important to with the adaptability of that particular tissue to a changing environment.   :31

Feinberg says even which genes have high or low entropy changes over time, and may have something to do with the aging process. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can occupational therapy help improve visual function? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Occupational therapy for people with low vision delivered at home, and directed specifically toward helping them with tasks they identified as both meaningful and challenging, helped avoid depression, research by Ashley Deemer and colleagues at Johns Hopkins has shown. Deemer says in some folks, function actually improved.

Deemer: We noticed that those with the more mild visual impairment actually performed much better on these questionnaires after the occupational therapy group. Whereas those who were not in that group, those who were in the supportive therapy attention control group, did not improve in their functional ability measures so the occupational therapy role did improve not only in some of these depressive symptoms but then also in this particular subset of people with mild impairment did improve their visual function as well. :29

Deemer credits the comprehensive approach to rehabilitation, including in home occupational therapy, for those with visual impairment as the key in improving function. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can occupational therapy help people with compromised vision avoid depression? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Depression is common in people with vision loss, especially as it comprises their ability to function. Now research by Ashley Deemer and colleagues at Johns Hopkins shows that when occupational therapy that teaches people with low vision how to cope in their homes is offered, depression develops less frequently and is less severe when it does, when compared to people offered supportive therapy alone.

Deemer: Those patients were then randomized into two different categories. Both received low vision rehabilitation services and then they were either given occupational therapy treatment in the home, which focused on problem solving, using different devices, behavior activation or more working at trying to solve some of the functional problems they were having around the house. And the other group got supportive therapy from a social worker who came into the home. The people who ended up developing depression were more so in the supportive therapy group than in the occupational therapy group. :31

Deemer says it is cost-effective to provide at-home services although devices needed by those with low vision are frequently not covered by insurance. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Fine tuning neurons may be the work of a newly described system, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Neurons used to be thought of as being like on-off switches, either sending a signal down the line or not doing so. Now a new process for what used to be thought of as a cellular garbage disposal may be fine-turning the neuron response. That’s according to research by Kapil Ramachandran and Seth Margolis at Johns Hopkins. Margolis comments.

Margolis: The majority of our understanding of signaling in the nervous system comes from the neurotransmitters. Those neurotransmitters allow for a very important signal across the neuron that ultimately leads to the foundations of our ability to function cognitively. There are other types of molecules which also signal to modulate the ability of these neurotransmitters to work. We think that these signaling components also might contribute to modulating the system in such a way that will affect how effectively neurotransmitters will ultimately mediate signaling across the neuron.  :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Illustration of a chiropractors symbol or icon in black and white graphic style.

This week’s topics include deaths relative to diabetes, increases in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes among US youth, the benefits of spinal manipulation for low back pain, and draft recommendations regarding prostate cancer screening.

Program notes:

0:40 Prostate cancer screening
1:38 Clinicians should inform on risks and benefits
2:40 Outcomes for 1000 men over 13 years
3:44 Benefits of spinal manipulation for low back pain
4:44 Probably higher cost
5:29 Deaths due to type 1 and type 2 diabetes
6:30 40% reduction for those with type 1
7:30 Validates HbA1c?
8:00 Diabetes in youths
9:00 Increase of about 5%
10:20 End

Related blog: https://podblog.blogs.hopkinsmedicine.org/2017/04/14/the-benefits-of-chiropractic/

 

 

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Anchor lead:  What used to be thought of as cellular trash turns out to have a function, Elizabeth Tracey reports

What used to be thought of as a cellular garbage disposal now turns out to have a communication function in your nervous system, research by Kapil Ramachandran and Seth Margolis at Johns Hopkins has shown. Ramachandran describes the results.

Ramachandran: Every cell in your body has proteins. Those proteins are born and they die. The mechanism by which these proteins die is essentially through this complex we call a proteasome and it works a lot like a paper shredder. In the nervous system we’ve figured out that this proteasome resides in a location that enables it to take these little fragments that come out of the other end and signal to other neurons.   :26

When this process was inhibited it turned out that neurons experienced disrupted signaling to each other, a vital function of nerve cells. Ramachandran and Margolis speculate that this signaling may be a kind of check-in among adjacent neurons. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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