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Aug 19, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- NEW WEAPON USED AGAINST INFECTIONS

Researchers have a potential new weapon against infectious diseases: radioactive particles piggybacking on antibodies. Their first-of-its-kind trial run showed the particles zero in on disease-causing microbes without harming healthy cells. The team from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine used the approach, called radioimmunotherapy, on mice infected with a fungus that causes encephalitis in AIDS patients and others with weak immune systems. Treated animals lived longer than untreated ones, without experiencing ill side effects, the researcher said. The method could prove useful against diseases caused by a wide variety of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other organisms, said Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova, assistant professor of nuclear medicine. The results are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Depressed adolescents may suffer a serious relapse as adults, researchers say. The study, reported in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, involved 851 adolescents from the Oregon Adolescent Depression Project. They were examined before age 19 and again at 24. Lead author Dr. Peter Lewinsohn of the Oregon Research Institute says his team found young adults who experienced major depression before age 18 showed a variety of impairments by their mid-20s. They were more likely to perform poorly at work, have social difficulties, have a low quality of life and physical well-being than did other young people who had experienced other psychological problems other than major depression, he said. The findings point to the importance of preventing depression in young people or, once it occurs, treating it promptly, the researchers said.


Scoliosis patients now have an option of undergoing a new minimally invasive surgery for the sideways curvature of the spine. The procedure is performed with an instrument called an endoscope that allows the surgeon to operate through 1-inch cuts, using video cameras and monitors. Three to five of every 1,000 children develop spinal curves considered large enough to require treatment. Often running in families, scoliosis eventually can affect the ability to breathe, said Dr. Baron Lonner, orthopedic spine surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and one of a handful of U.S. doctors who perform the procedure. Rather than making a long incision along the back, Lonner enters the chest through several small incisions beneath the arm. The approach produces less scarring and requires a shorter recovery period, he said.


Researchers have devised an Internet tool to help parents monitor speech development in hard-of-hearing children with cochlear implants or hearing aids. Purdue University speech-language pathologist David Ertmer, an expert in speech and language development in children with a hearing loss, created The interactive Web site provides parents, students and professionals with audio examples of baby jargon, such as squealing and babbling, so they can assess a child's progress. It also provides information on how to help infants and toddlers develop listening and speech skills. "This site provides information about the initial stages of speech development in young children with normal and impaired hearing," said Ertmer, associate professor in audiology and speech sciences. "At the site, we provide audio examples and practice identifying vocalizations so that parents and clinicians can recognize when the child begins to produce more mature speech patterns."

(Editors: For more information about INFECTIONS, contact Susan Manko at 412-647-3555 or For DEPRESSION, contact Pam Willenz at 202-336-5707 or For SCOLIOSIS, call Ann Silverman at 212-434-2400. For BABIES, Jesica Webb at 765-494-2079 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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