Archive | September 2013

Incredible Stem-Cell Support Medication Receives More Positive Results

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Kiadis Pharmaceuticals, a private biotechnology company who specialize in treatments for blood cancer, have just published clinical data that heaps further praise on their novel medication for acute myeloid luekaemia (AML).

The study followed patients for five years after their initial treatment with ATIRTM. All of the patients were diagnosed with high-risk malignancies with a very uncertain prognosis. The study confirmed the drug’s safety and even showed that it can improve the survival prognosis for patients.

ATIRTM is a cell-based product that enables patients with AML to receive stem cell transplantation from family members who are not a perfect match, which is known as a haploidentical transplant. Without supporting medication, such a transplant would most likely result in a full immune response from the body as it would see the transplanted stem cells as a foreign invader. Infusion of ATIRTM provides short-term immune protection and long-term enhancements to prognosis for patients.

Perhaps most positive of all, not one of the test subjects died from transplant-related mortality and many were still alive after 5 years. The average percentage increase in prognosis for high-risk patients was found to be 33% with an overall survival rate of 67% over 5 years.

Such exciting research does not come along often enough. It is only natural to wonder how else the drug or other like it could be used to enhance the lives of people requiring stem cell transplantation. ATIRTM is now in the final stages of Phase II research and the EU & USA have already given the drug Orphan Drug Designation.

To read more, please click here:

http://test1.kiadis.com/news_1109201301.html

Image of AML cells is provided courtesy of Kyoto University.

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Rare Breakthrough in the Study of Septic Shock

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Septic shock is a silent killer around the world and treatments for it are few and far between; without an early diagnosis around 50% of patients will die as a result of it. What makes it so hard to treat is the fact that body is attacking itself but new research has finally pinpointed the chain of events that lead to septic shock, research that it is hoped will bring about new treatment options.

It was a round a decade ago that mouse studies led to the discovery that toll-like receptors were responsible for detecting extracellular bacteria. This latest research, performed by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, built on that previous work and focused on finding the sensor pathway to the cell and inside the cell during an immune response.

Published in the latest edition of Science, the research showed that the intracellular and extracellular sensors work together, both detecting the same component of the bacterial cell membrane, known as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In most cases the immune system is able to tell the difference between something suspicious and a full-blown threat but during a case of septic shock this differentiation does not happen and the body goes into overdrive to attack an infection that is either not there or very diminutive.

An immune response will cause the body to increase the permeability of its blood vessels leading to immune cells leaving the bloodstream and going on the attack to the infection site. In cases of septic shock, blood pressure will fall dramatically and the heart rate will rise. If recognized early enough the prognosis looks good but treatment options are sparse and primarily involve trying to wrestle the immune system back in line. Septic shock will often lead to organ failure and death; it kills 750’000 US citizens each year alone.

About half of the cases of septic shock are caused by bacteria that produce LPS so this research has the potential to help many thousands of people. Further research is needed but this is a positive step in the right direction for creating options for treatment, such as drugs that can break into the chain reaction before the onset of organ failure.

To read more, please click here:

http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2013/september/unc-researchers-identify-molecule-that-triggers-septic-shock

http://www.nature.com/news/2000/000202/full/news000203-6.html

Image of septic shock in action is provided courtesy of http://medicaltextbooks.blogspot.com

 

Statins Proving Toxic for Sufferers of Chronic Kidney Disease

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Patients with kidney disease are being routinely over-prescribed statins that they do not need and which may be causing them serious health implications, a cross-study review has shown. The findings, published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, researched several studies and found a worrying trend for patients in the advanced stages of the disease.

Large numbers of kidney disease sufferers are routinely prescribed statins to lower their cholesterol and the thinking behind this makes sense- people with kidney disease are 23 times more likely to get cardiovascular disease than a non-sufferer and elevated cholesterol levels have been linked to the onset and progression of cardiovascular disorders. So far, so logical. However, the shocking reality is that patients have been shown to not be benefitting from their statins medication and that taking them may actually be increasing their risk of diabetes, dementia or severe muscle pain (rhabdomyolysis).

Chronic kidney disease is rising in the US at an alarming rate, a precedent that Europe looks set to follow over the coming years. The leading cause of death in sufferers is cardiovascular disease. Statins have been shown to provide little to no benefit in patients with early-onset kidney disease; latter-stage patients have actually reported toxic effects as their kidneys struggle to process the medication.

Ali Olyaei, professor of Pharmacology at the College of Pharmacology, Oregon State University, conducted the research and has said that it is obvious that statins are doing nothing for kidney disease patients. Doctors are encouraged to look at other medications to tackle high-cholesterol in kidney disease patients and to only prescribe low-doses of statins if they need to.

To read more, please click here:

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/statins-and-chronic-kidney-disease

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1468443/

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-09-statins-overprescribed-kidney-disease-patients.html

Kidney image provided courtesy of http://mediminage.com

Bladder Cancer Genetic Breakthrough Shows Promise

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Recent research into bladder cancer has shown a startling result- three quarters of all bladder cancers display mutations in the same gene. The bladder tumours display somatic (physical) mutations in the TERT (telomerase reverse transcriptase) gene, the gene responsible for the protection of DNA, which has also been linked to cellular aging and the development of cancer.

The research, undertaken by the Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO) shows conclusively that this gene is the one that is most frequently mutated across all bladder tumours. Led by Francisco X Real, head of epithelial carcinogenesis, the team also featured members from France and Amsterdam. Published in the journal, European Urology, the molecular and genetic research was undertaken in 450 volunteers. All of the volunteers had a recent diagnosis of bladder cancer and were at various stages of disease progression.

The research showed that there was no correlation between the stage of cancer, the quantity of TERT mutations or the patient’s survival outlook which suggests that the mutations occur early on in carcinogenesis.

The product of the TERT gene is a protein, a reverse transcriptase of the telomere complex. This means that it is responsible for increasing the length of the telomeres, which are the protective structures for genetic material located at the end of each of our chromosomes.

The authors of the study have suggested that TERT could be used as a new biomarker for bladder cancer as it can easily be detected in the urine. Further research is also due to start to see if pre-existing TERT-slowing medications may have the ability to slow down the often rapid growth of bladder cancer tumours.

To read more, please click here:

http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/10/22/7457.full

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-09-cases-bladder-cancer-mutations-gene.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2966556/

Image of TERT gene is provided courtesy of CNIO

Obesity Linked to Episodic Migraines

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Obesity has been linked to many health conditions and the latest of these is migraine headache. Recent research, published in the journal Neurology, has built on previous research undertaken in this area and has shown statistically significant results.
The team at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, headed by Lee Peterlin, studied 3862 volunteers with an average age of 47. The volunteers were of various weights, ethnicities and both men and women were studied. Such a broad approach to research is done in the hope a relative trend or pattern will emerge, leading to a defined focus area for future studies. Of the participants that were obese, 81% of them suffered from episodic migraines. Episodic migraines are classified as migraines that occur fewer than 14 times per calendar month.
The research confirmed that women are far more likely to suffer from migraine than men (in fact the most affected research group were white women under the age of 50, confirming links to high-oestrogen levels already evaluated).
The research is positive as obesity is a risk factor that can be modified and controlled, which would hopefully lead to a reduction in symptoms and less medication need. It is also important reading for healthcare practitioners as some anti-migraine medication can lead to weight gain and doctors should be cautious about prescribing such medication to people who are already obese.
Future work could involve researching the effect of weight loss on individuals who suffer from episodic migraine. This is the latest in a flurry of recent published work into migraines, including some last week that showed that severe migraines can alter the long-term structure of the brain and may increase the risk of brain lesions.
To read more, click here:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265902.php
http://themedcircle.com/obesity-linked-to-episodic-migraine/
Image is provided courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez, Inc./BlendImages/Corbis

CT Scans Made More Efficient Thanks to Bismuth

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Researchers at Rice University, Texas have been looking into how they can improve the medical capabilities of CT scans and think they may have found a solution thanks to bismuth-carrying nanotubes and cell-tracking technology.

The nanotubes form a cage into which bismuth is trapped. The structure then tags stem cells enabling them to be tracked with an X-ray. The team, headed by Lonn Wilson, focused on using a contrast agent to enhance the effects of computed tomography (CT) scans.

Bismuth is most well-known for its appearance in popular stomach-settling medication Pepto-Bismol. It is the perfect chemical for this treatment as it is heavy and highly diffractive. The nanotube capsules are 20-80nm long and around 1.4nm in diameter. Once administered into the patient they are small enough to diffuse into the cell. As the capsules are lipophilic (oil-loving) they aggregate together once inside the cell and form a mass of around 300nm that is then able to be detected on an X-ray.

CT scans are cheaper, faster, more convenient and more widespread than MRI scans so finding a way of improving them would lead to quicker waiting times for the patients and important cost benefits. It is thought that this treatment enhancement may also be useful in positron emission tomography (PET) scans and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) scans.

To read more, click here:

http://news.rice.edu/2013/09/04/bismuth-carrying-nanotubes-show-promise-for-ct-scans/

http://www.futurity.org/bismuth-tiny-cages-can-light-cell-scans/

Image of a bismuth-crystal is provided courtesy of http://todayandtomorrow.net

Diclofenac on the Verge of Reclassification

Diclofenac-sodium-from-rutty-on-Flickr

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are considering proposals to reclassify diclofenac from over-the-counter (OTC) status to prescription-only, due to a rise in reports of cardiovascular events at high doses.

Diclofenac is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) that has a brilliant known effectiveness. However, it is very potent and there have been calls for years for this drug to not be available as OTC. People are being advised to not take diclofenac for minor problems such as colds, flu and fever and to instead take other medication such as paracetamol. As always, you should not take NSAID medication with other NSAIDs.

For more information, please click here:

http://www.actavisacademy.co.uk/?pgid=1146&artid=26275

Image of diclofenac is provided courtesy of http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk