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Sep 12, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- SCANS SPEED UP MS DIAGNOSIS

Using MRI scans can help speed up the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, neurologists say. The American Academy of Neurology made the assessment in new guidelines, published in its journal Neurology. Researchers have debated about the point at which the disease can be correctly identified, says Dr. Elliot Frohman of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. "Before, the criteria used to diagnose people required neurologists to show that disease activity had occurred in the brain over time," he said. "Now that we have evidence showing that early treatment can reduce the entire course of the disease, we really needed to ask the question about how early the diagnosis can be made." MS involves inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, which leads to lesions, or areas of damage. The guidelines outline the number and type of lesions that, if present, can predict disease development. For example, a patient with three or more lesions in the white matter area of the brain has a greater than 80-percent likelihood of developing MS within the next 7 to 10 years. "This guideline helps us use MRI to telescope into the future to see what's going to happen with these patients," Frohman said.


A study suggests women trying to shed pounds can benefit as much from moderate physical activity as from an intense workout. Previous studies had focused on short-term weight loss. The new survey, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, looks at the long-term picture. The study also found increased activity may reduce a postmenopausal woman's risk of developing breast cancer. The more exercise, the greater the benefit -- although the workout does not need to be strenuous, the scientists said. The 201 participants walked briskly for 2.5 to 3.5 hours a week or for 3.5 to 5 hours a week. All the women lost weight -- 13 pounds to 20 pounds -- and improved their cardiorespiratory fitness by a similar amount, the researchers found.


The drug tetrathiomolybdate, which works by cutting off a tumor's blood supply, shows promise in fighting cancer and other diseases, doctors say. The drug, developed at the University of Michigan, attacks copper, choking off tumor growth, fibrosis and inflammation, they say. TM began as a treatment for Wilson's disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes toxic buildups of copper, the drug's developer, Dr. George Brewer, said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in New York. Realizing the key role of copper in angiogenesis, Brewer and colleagues began exploring treatments for cancer, including of the breast, kidney and liver. The drug is being tested in nine cancer trials, and more studies are planned. Brewer and colleagues also are looking into the effect of TM on inflammatory fibrosis diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis, cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis and psoriasis.


A therapy called continuous positive airway pressure helped patients with sleep disturbances and their partners get some much needed sleep, researchers report. They say in the journal Chest the treatment shows promise against a common sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, characterized by recurring episodes of upper airway closures during sleep that result in arousal and daytime sleepiness. The treatment prevents the closure, the scientists said. "Snoring and sleep apnea interfere with the quality of sleep of both the patient and the bed partner. Many bed partners choose to sleep in separate rooms rather than endure continuous sleepless nights caused by sleep apnea," said lead author Dr. James Parish, chair of pulmonary medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. "With CPAP therapy, patients and their partners can experience restful nights which can ultimately benefit them physically and mentally."

(Editors: For more information about MS, contact Kathy Stone at 651-695-2763 or For PAIN, 301-496-4236. For DRUG, Nicole Fawcett at 734-764-2220 or For SLEEP, Liza Morris at 202-955-6222 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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