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Study: Bacteria in vagina may impact effectiveness of HIV preventive drugs

Study: Bacteria in vagina may impact effectiveness of HIV preventive drugs

Health
Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The effectiveness of medication to prevent HIV in women depends at least in part on the health of vaginal bacteria, according to a study published Thursday by PLOS Pathogens. The medication, called PrEP, is designed to prevent HIV infection in people considered to be at higher risk for HIV, including men who have sex with men, IV drug users and sex workers. Advertisement PrEP is highly effective at preventing infection with the virus, reducing a person's risk for getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, research suggests that the drug works less well in women, although the exact reasons for this remain unclear. "The data in this study indicate that the vaginal microbime can impac...
Circadian gene mutations linked to increased risk for substance abuse in study with mice

Circadian gene mutations linked to increased risk for substance abuse in study with mice

Science
Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Mice trained to self-administer cocaine went on more benders when they carried a mutation in the NPAS2 gene, a gene that regulates circadian rhythms. The research, published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests a link between the disruption of wake-sleep cycles and substance abuse. Advertisement Circadian genes are found in nearly every cell in the brain and body, but some circadian genes are unique to specific parts of the brain. NPAS2 is highly expressed in the forebrain, specifically the striatum and nucleus accumbens, which helps operate the brain's reward system. "This suggests that NPAS2 might play a particularly important role in regulating rhythms in these brains regions, which is part of the appeal of studying NPAS2 and rewards," lead study author L...
Medicaid expansion likely improved colon cancer care, study finds

Medicaid expansion likely improved colon cancer care, study finds

Health
Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Medicaid expansion has likely improved care of colon cancer, researchers said in a study published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The researchers compared states that expanded Medicaid health insurance in 2014 to non-expansion states and found that expansion led to earlier diagnosis, better access to care and improved surgical care. Advertisement The reason states had more stage 1 diagnosis after Medicaid expansion is unclear, but may indicate better access to care, Samer Tohme, senior investigator on the study, said in a press release. "Studies show that patients who are diagnosed with cancer at an earlier stage are more likely to have better treatment options, improved quality of care, and longer survival," said Tohme, a surgical oncologist a...
‘Polypill’ reduces risk for heart attack, stroke by up to 40%, study finds

‘Polypill’ reduces risk for heart attack, stroke by up to 40%, study finds

Health
Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A so-called "polypill" that combines three blood pressure medications and a cholesterol-lowering drug, when taken with aspirin, reduces risk for heart attack or stroke by up to 40%, according to a study published Friday by the New England Journal of Medicine. Taken alone, the combination drug -- which is not available in the United States -- lowers a person's risk for heart attack or stroke, as well as the need for angioplasty or other types of heart surgery, by 20%, the data showed. Advertisement When administered with aspirin -- with its proven ability to prevent heart attacks by stopping blood clots -- the combination works to decrease the risk for these cardiovascular events by twice as much as without it, the researchers said. "Studies of polypills, now including our...
Wolves alter wetlands by killing beavers, study shows

Wolves alter wetlands by killing beavers, study shows

Science
Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Wolves alter wetlands by killing beavers that are instrumental in their creation, scientists at the University of Minnesota detailed in a new study. The study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, demonstrated how wolves observed through the university's Voyageurs Wolf Project and Voyageurs National Park affected wetland ecosystems by killing beavers. Advertisement Beavers create and maintain wetlands by building dams and ponds, with juvenile beavers dispersing to create or recolonize ponds. But this process is disrupted when wolves kill beavers. "In 2015, we documented a wolf killing a dispersing beaver in a newly created pond," study co-author Austin Homkes said in a statement. "Within days of the wolf killing the beaver, the dam failed because there was n...