Health Tips

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer  |  Dec. 24, 2001 at 4:45 AM
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A supplement called chromium picolinate may help people manage their weight, researchers say. The compound has shown preliminary promise in studies of measures to control weight. Chromium is an essential trace mineral. It helps the hormone insulin function efficiently, scientists say. Healthy insulin function is important to every cell in the body. A loss of sensitivity to insulin may promote obesity along with a host of other health problems, scientists think. Efficient insulin activity is important for controlling appetite, stimulating metabolism and building and retaining muscle, they say. Retaining muscle is important to dieters since up to 30 percent of the weight lost on most diets can be muscle tissue. Loss of muscle reduces metabolic rate, promoting weight rebound, or the "yo-yo" diet syndrome. Chromium helps dieters keep muscle, while maintaining or increasing their metabolic rates and losing fat. Even though it occurs naturally in foods, chromium is lacking in typical American diets, said Gary Evans, former research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and author of Chromium Picolinate: Everything You Need To Know. "Most people eat less than the U.S. National Academy of Science's recommended range of chromium," he said.


The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is joining hands with Merck & Co. to test HIV vaccines. Under the agreement, vaccines will be tested on humans in NIAID's international HIV Vaccine Trials Network of 24 clinical sites established to speedily move promising experimental HIV vaccines through all stages of human testing. "Scientists in industry, academia and government have unique and necessary contributions to make to the important work of developing a vaccine against HIV," says NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. "Public-private partnerships such as this bring our collective strengths to bear on one of the world's most serious health problems." An estimated 5 million new HIV infections were contracted worldwide this year, health officials say.


The molecular structure of two cancer-related proteins binding to one another has been revealed. Scientists have identified the biochemical and signaling properties of these molecules. These are the first detailed pictures of the proteins interacting with each other, indicating which areas are critical to the development of cancer. The finding may eventually be used to design drugs that interfere with the proteins' function and prevent cancer growth, said investigators at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Tyrosine kinases are key enzymes responsible for communication between receptors on the cell's surface and pathways within the cell. Researchers determined the structure of a receptor tyrosine kinase bound to its corresponding ligand molecule. Interactions between the two affect angiogenesis -- the development of new blood vessels essential for cancer progression.


A DNA diagnostic technique developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists may help improve cancer diagnosis. The advance, described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, means researchers can detect mutations in individual cancer cells by specific identification and by making numerous copies of the DNA in the genes important for cancer progression in each cell. In addition to its use in cancer diagnosis, the technique could also be employed to genetically screen plants for agricultural uses, evaluate birth defects and for applications in basic cell research, said lead study author Allen Christian, a biomedical scientist. Another possible use would be a more rapid determination of whether a person has been exposed to radiation, he said.

(EDITORS: For more information about WEIGHT, call 800-999-4859; about HIV, call 301-402-1663; about CANCER, call 631-344-8350; about DIAGNOSTIC, call 925-423-3107.)

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