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Alabama officials recently warned all obese state employees to shape up or expect to start paying more for their health insobese_stomach_being_measured.jpgurance. Beginning in 2010 the state will begin charging obese employees and employees with weight related conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes a monthly additional fee to their health care insurance premiums.

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surgery distractionsAt least 12,000 Americans die each year from unnecessary surgery, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association report. And tens of thousands more suffer complications.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 00:00
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Newswise — Bacteria mutate for a living, evading antibiotic drugs while killing tens of thousands of people in the United States each year. But as concern about drug-resistant bacteria grows, one novel approach under way at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks to thwart the bug without a drug by taking a cue from nature.

Mark Schoenfisch and his lab of analytical chemists at UNC have created nano-scale scaffolds made of silica and loaded with nitric oxide (NO) – an important molecule in mammals that plays a role in regulating blood pressure, neurotransmission and fighting bacterial infections, among other vital functions.

“There was evidence that nitric oxide kills bacteria, but the difficult part involved storing it in a manner such that it could be delivered to bacterial cells,” said Evan Hetrick, a doctoral student in Schoenfisch’s lab and lead author on a paper in the February issue of the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Nano.

While the body constantly produces NO, and can ramp up its production to fight infection, sometimes it can’t produce enough to mount a sufficient defense. Previous research using small molecules to deliver NO hit roadblocks – controlling the release of the compound was difficult and the molecules were potentially toxic to healthy cells in the body.

“With silica scaffolds, nitric oxide stores easily and we could very carefully control the release,” said Schoenfisch, an associate professor of chemistry in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Schoenfisch, Hetrick and their colleagues tested their silica scaffolds head-to-head with small molecules against the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is commonly found in burn and other wound infections.

NO delivered by both methods completely killed the bacteria. But the silica nanoparticles delivered the NO right to the bacteria’s doorstep. In contrast, the small molecules released NO indiscriminately, and the concentration of NO is lost as it makes its way toward bacterial cells.

“With the silica particles, more NO actually reached the inside of the cells, enhancing the efficacy of the nanoparticles compared to the small molecule. So, the overall amount of NO needed to kill bacteria is much less with silica nanoparticles,” Schoenfisch said. “And, with small molecules, you’re left with potentially toxic byproducts,” Schoenfisch said. Using mouse cells, they proved that the silica nanoparticles weren’t toxic to healthy cells, but the small molecules were.

Schoenfisch has a history of success with NO-releasing materials. His lab has successfully created a variety of coatings for different biomedical applications. Such materials hold promise as anti-infective coatings and as methods to improve the body’s integration of biological implants – such as hip or knee joints – and implanted sensors that relay various biological measures, such as blood glucose or oxygen concentrations.

The amount and rate of NO release are easily modified and controlled by using these different silica nanoparticles. “Release rates are a function of the precursors used to make the nanoparticles,” Schoenfisch said. “It depends entirely on how we build the silica structures.”

Future research will include studying additional bacterial strains, active targeting, preferential uptake and biodistribution studies.

Schoenfisch’s Web site: http://www.chem.unc.edu/people/faculty/schoenfischmh/mhsgroup/

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bad-neck-pain-womanThere are seven pains that you should NOT ignore if you care about your health. Do you know which ones they are?

 

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marijuana-mcdonaldsThe more research they do, the more evidence Ohio State University scientists find that specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

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Are you facing surgery? You are not alone. Every year, more than 15 million Americans have surgery. Most operations are not emergencies and are considered elective surgery. This means that you have time to learn about your operation to be sure it is the best treatment for you. You also have time to work with your surgeon to make the surgery as safe as possible. Be active in your health care to have quality care. Before you get surgery get the basic facts. Here are  some basic questions to ask your medical provider before considering surgery:  

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An Issue of Growing Concern

  • Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of the burden of illness and 90% of all healthcare costs.

 

  • Preventable illnesses account for eight of the nine leading categories of death.
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With flu season just around the corner, this is no time to dilly dally before getting vaccinated against an illness that usually strikes hardest in late fall and winter.

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married_peoplePeople who never marry have the greatest chance of an earlier death, reveals a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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health-literacy2Just 12 percent of America’s 228 million adults have the skills to manage their own health care proficiently, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research. These skills, known collectively as health literacy, describe people's person’s ability to obtain and use health information to make appropriate health care decisions. They include weighing the risks and benefits of different treatments, knowing how to calculate health insurance costs, and being able to fill out complex medical forms.

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