Help for bipolar patients in sight

Relief to more than 2.3 million Americans suffering from bipolar disorder may be in sight, thanks to a study at the National Institute of Mental Health.

The $22 million dollar federal research study, titled “The Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder,” boasts 5,000 participants who will help find ways to raise the standard of care for individuals with the disease.

The study, centered at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, will focus on improvements in medications and therapies for treating both depression and manic episodes and ways to prevent relapses.

Participants in the study will receive attention for a maximum of five years, including evaluations and treatment plans to help them cope with their disease.

Improved system to take prints from crime scenes

The University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Secret Service have teamed up to find a new, less expensive, technique to take fingerprints at crime scenes.

The technique will cause less damage to crime scene evidence and involves a group of chemicals known as indanediones, a highly sensitive, easy to use group, which recently received a U.S. patent.

A European company also received a non-exclusive license to the new technique, which resulted from an unannounced visit of federal agents to chemistry Prof. Madeleine Joullie”s lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

Together, the group found indanediones the best selection to pick up the information in a fingerprint, which normally equals one millionth of a gram of amino acids, glycerides, fatty acids, urea and salts.

Study: Amygdala initiates memory storage in brain

The area of the brain known as the amygdala stores more than just painful and emotional memories, according to researchers at the University of Illinois it also initiates memory storage in other regions of the brain.

The research, shown in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that the amygdala plays a role in initiating memory storage in other brain locations.

Located in the temporal lobe, the amygdala receives electrical signals to be sent to the thalamus.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is co-authored by Amy Poremba of the National Institute of Mental Health. It involves shooting neurons into different regions of the brain of 26 male rabbits, disabling the amygdala. Rabbits who underwent the treatment experienced a decrease in the ability to remember learned traits.

Researchers are also examining the effects of firing neurons into the auditory cortex.

Radiofrequency to treat fecal control

Researchers at University Health System continue to look at ways to treat fecal incontinence, which is the inability to control the movement of stool and bowel gas through the anus.

The study, done in conjunction with universities, including Stanford University, Mayo Clinic and the University of Southern California, uses radiofrequency energy to treat fecal incontinence.

The treatment applies radiofrequency energy to the muscle of the anorectal junction, which reduces its flexibility.

Current treatments include modifications to the diet, medication, exercise and surgery. Without treatment, people can experience a decrease in social activity and confidence, celibacy, depression and damage to their job and relationships.

Compiled by Daily Staff Reporter Lisa Hoffman.

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