19 March 2009

* Lebanese Among U.S. Researchers who Found New Drug that May Prevent Brain Damage

A new class of Alzheimer's disease drugs may prevent long-term damage from traumatic brain injury, according to a study by Georgetown University Medical Center researchers, including a doctor of Lebanese origin.
The drugs -- gamma-secretase inhibitors -- are designed to target amyloid plaque that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

"No one knows why it occurs, but abnormal amounts of amyloid plaque have been found during an autopsy in about a third of brain injury victims, some of whom were children who would ordinarily never have had these deposits," Mark Burns, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at Georgetown and the study's lead author, said in a university news release. "Remarkably, these deposits occur in less than one day after injury."

It's also known that people who've suffered a brain injury have a 400 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to the researchers.

"In this study, we show that the same pathways activated chronically in Alzheimer's disease are activated acutely in traumatic brain injury and that they appear to play a very important role in secondary injury," Burns said.

He and his colleagues, including Lebanese researcher Charbel al-Hajj Moussa, first conducted tests that showed that brain injury in mice resulted in substantially more amyloid peptide than normal. They then found that amyloid peptide production after brain injury was reduced in mice that received an experimental agent called DAPT, one of the first gamma secretase inhibitors developed and the basis for some Alzheimer's disease drugs now in clinical trials.

The researchers said that their findings, which are published online in Nature Medicine, suggest that this class of drugs could do something no other drug has been able to do -- prevent the long-term and continuing damage that often follows serious brain injury.

Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care. The center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies. 



(naharnet)



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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.