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From the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside, the process of ‘translating’ ideas, insights, and discoveries generated through basic scientific inquiry to the treatment or prevention of human disease.

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Current News: July 2005

Exercise Vs Genes: The real winner in managing cholesterol

No matter how much you exercise, your genes play an overriding role in your cholesterol response; this according to a new studyby researchers at CHORI in collaboration with the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The research, conducted by Paul T. Williams, PhD, of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, with Robin Rawlings, RN, Patricia Blanche and Ronald M. Krauss, MD, of CHORI, analyzed how "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol) responded to diets that were either high or low in fat in 28 pairs of identical male twins–one twin a vigorous exerciser, the other a comparative couch potato.

For six weeks the twins ate either a high-fat diet (40 percent of its calories from fat) or a low-fat diet (only 20 percent of its calories from fat); then the pairs switched diets for another six weeks. After each six-week period the twins' blood cholesterol levels were tested.

Researchers found that if one of the twins could eat a high-fat diet without increasing his bad cholesterol, so could the other, no matter the exercise regimen. Likewise, if one of the twins' LDL cholesterol shot up when they went on the high-fat diet, his brother's did too.

The experiment confirmed that genes play a major role in our cholesterol response, or as CHORI’s Patricia Blanche puts it, “genetic contributions trump exercise.” 

The sad truth: Some people have to be careful about their diets, while others have much more freedom in their dietary choices.

The moral: Make sure your twin has good genes.

Preventing pulmonary hypertension in sickle cell patients

A new study led by Claudia Morris, MD, a Children’s Hospital Emergency department physician and researcher, has shed light on some causes of severe pulmonary hypertension. This condition causes high blood pressure in arteries carrying blood from the heart to the lungs and is the leading cause of death in adult sickle cell patients. Dr. Morris’ team discovered that lack of the amino acid arginine is associated with the condition. The deficiency results in hemolysis, a process in which red blood cells rupture and release their contents into the blood stream.

Dr. Morris and her colleagues published their conclusions in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s July 6 issue after a four-year study. They found that patients with low arginine levels were 3.6 times more likely to die than those with high levels. The study supports new therapeutic strategies aimed at increasing arginine levels—either through nutritional supplements, preventing hemolysis or by developing new drug therapies that will disable the arginase enzyme that consumes arginine.

Monday, May 16, 2011 11:33 PM

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