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March 31, 2011, 7:06 AM CT

Hepatitis C drug may revolutionize treatment

Hepatitis C drug may revolutionize treatment

The drug boceprevir helps cure hard-to-treat hepatitis C, says Saint Louis University investigator Bruce R. Bacon, M.D., author of the March 31 New England Journal (NEJM) article detailing the study's findings. The results, which were first reported at the 61st annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease's last November, offer a brighter outlook for patients who have not responded to standard therapy.

Bacon, who is professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the HCV RESPOND-2 study, studied the protease inhibitor boceprevir and observed that it significantly increased the number of patients whose blood had undetectable levels of the virus.

"These findings are particularly significant for patients who don't respond to initial therapy," said Bacon. "When the hepatitis C virus is not eliminated, debilitating fatigue and more serious problems can follow".

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that is transmitted by contact with blood. The infection may initially be asymptomatic, but for patients who develop chronic hepatitis C infection, inflammation of the liver may develop, leading to fibrosis and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), as well as other complications including liver cancer and death.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 30, 2011, 10:47 PM CT

Cholesterol regulator and cirrhosis

Cholesterol regulator and  cirrhosis
Treated with a control substance, livers from normal and LXR-deficient mice appear identical and undamaged (top left and right). The bottom images show the greater degree of fibrosis (blue bands) in the livers of mice lacking LXRs (right) compared to normal mice (left) after liver injury.

Credit: UCLA

UCLA scientists have demonstrated that a key regulator of cholesterol and fat metabolism in the liver also plays an important role in the development of liver fibrosis � the build-up of collagen scar tissue that can develop into cirrhosis. Cirrhosis, in turn, is a major cause of premature death and is incurable without a liver transplant.

Reported in the recent issue of the journal Gastroenterology, the study shows that liver X receptors (LXRs), master regulators of cholesterol, fat and inflammatory gene expression, also control the fibrosis-making cells of the liver, known as hepatic stellate cells.

In the face of chronic liver injury � due to excess fat, chronic viral hepatitis or alcohol abuse, for example � stellate cells become activated and launch an inflammatory and fibrotic cascade that eventually results in the build-up of collagen scar tissue in the liver.

LXRs, when stimulated, "turn on" several hundred genes that hold instructions to create proteins for carrying out bodily processes in cells, from transporting and excreting cholesterol to synthesizing fat in the liver. They have also been shown to suppress inflammatory processes in several contexts.

"Our work sets the stage for looking at new ways to modulate cholesterol and/or fat metabolism in order to have therapeutic potential for the therapy of fibrosing liver diseases," said main author Dr. Simon Beaven, an assistant professor of digestive diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


November 1, 2010, 7:38 AM CT

Spice in curry could prevent liver damage

Spice in curry could prevent liver damage
Curcumin, a chemical that gives curry its zing, holds promise in preventing or treating liver damage from an advanced form of a condition known as fatty liver disease, new Saint Louis University research suggests.

Curcurmin is contained in turmeric, a plant used by the Chinese to make traditional medicines for thousands of years. SLU's recent study highlights its potential in countering an increasingly common kind of fatty liver disease called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Associated with obesity and weight gain, NASH affects 3 to 4 percent of U.S. adults and can lead to a type of liver damage called liver fibrosis and possibly cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.

"My laboratory studies the molecular mechanism of liver fibrosis and is searching for natural ways to prevent and treat this liver damage," said Anping Chen, Ph.D., corresponding author and director of research in the pathology department of Saint Louis University.

"While research in an animal model and human clinical trials are needed, our study suggests that curcumin appears to be an effective treatment to treat and prevent liver fibrosis, which is linked to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)".

High levels of blood leptin, glucose and insulin are usually found in human patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes, which might contribute to NASH-associated liver fibrosis.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


June 24, 2010, 10:29 PM CT

Hepatitis B virus and liver cancer

Hepatitis B virus and liver cancer
Prior studies have shown that antiviral therapy reduces the occurence rate of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). But now, scientists from the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Thomas Jefferson University are reporting that the antiviral treatment also prevents recurrence of HCC and extends patients' lives.

The standard of care for patients with HCC is local ablation of the tumor, unless it is large or has metastasized. However, HCC tumors often recur, or new lesions develop. In the International Journal of Cancer, Hie-Won Hann, M.D., professor of Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and his colleagues reported that the median survival in patients who received antiviral treatment after HCC diagnosis was 60 months in patients. In those who did not receive antiviral treatment, the median survival was 12.5 months.

"Before the antiviral drugs were developed, patients would often develop new lesions within a few months of tumor ablation because we were not treating the underlying virus that is causing the liver cancer," Dr. Hann said. "The virus drives the cancer, and by suppressing the virus and making it undetectable we can extend the survival for these patients".

The small study included 15 CHB patients who received local ablation of a single HCC tumor that was less than four cm. The first six patients were diagnosed between 1991 and 1997, previous to the development of antiviral treatment. These patients were considered historical controls.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 24, 2010, 12:20 AM CT

Hair dye and smoking linked to liver disease

Hair dye and smoking linked to liver disease
Hair dye and smoking both increase the risk of progressive liver disease, suggests research involving around 5000 people reported in the journal Gut

Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), which is an early form of liver cirrhosis, is a long term progressive autoimmune disease, in which environmental factors are thought to play a part.

It causes the liver's plumbing system of bile ducts to become inflamed, scarred, and blocked, leading to extensive tissue damage and irreversible, and ultimately fatal, liver cirrhosis.

The authors base their findings on two series of patients, one of which included 318 out of 381 new cases of PBC arising between 1997 and 2003 in the North East of England. The other series included 2258 out of 3217 members of the United Kingdom PBC Foundation, a national support group for people with the condition.

Finally, 2438 out of 3933 people randomly selected from the electoral roll, and matched for age and sex, were used as a comparison group.

All three groups were sent detailed questionnaires on potential environmental and genetic risk factors linked to PBC.

As expected, autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid and coeliac diseases were all more common among those with PBC. And those with a family history of autoimmune disease were more likely to have PBC.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 24, 2010, 12:18 AM CT

Indian spice Curcumin may delay liver damage and cirrhosis

Indian spice Curcumin may delay liver damage and cirrhosis
Curcumin, one of the principal components of the Indian spice turmeric, seems to delay the liver damage that eventually causes cirrhosis, suggests preliminary experimental research in the journal Gut

Curcumin, which gives turmeric its bright yellow pigment, has long been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders.

Prior research has indicated that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which appears to be helpful in combating disease.

The research team wanted to find out if curcumin could delay the damage caused by progressive inflammatory conditions of the liver, including primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.

Both of these conditions, which can be sparked by genetic faults or autoimmune disease, cause the liver's plumbing system of bile ducts to become inflamed, scarred, and blocked. This leads to extensive tissue damage and irreversible and ultimately fatal liver cirrhosis.

The research team analysed tissue and blood samples from mice with chronic liver inflammation before and after adding curcumin to their diet for a period of four and a period of eight weeks.

The results were compared with the equivalent samples from mice with the same condition, but not fed curcumin.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 12, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

Preventing gastric cancer with antibiotics

Preventing gastric cancer with antibiotics
H Pylori
Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium found in about 50% of humans worldwide, can cause stomach ulcers and, in extreme cases, gastric cancer. In an article for F1000 Medicine Reports, Seiji Shiota and Yoshio Yamaoka discuss the possible eradication of H. pylori infections.

Infection by the H. pylori bacterium can approach 100% in developing countries. Most infected people do not have symptoms, but a number of develop problems including stomach ulcers. H. pylori causes more than 90% of all duodenal ulcers and can also contribute to the development of gastric cancer, which is one of the world's biggest medical problems.

Shiota and Yamaoka, from Oita University, Japan, and Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, respectively, report on a large multicenter trial in Japan. Patients with early gastric cancer were randomly treated with H. pylori antibiotics after surgical resection and were followed up for three years. Patients who received antibiotic therapy had a significantly lower risk of developing gastric cancer, confirming the importance of careful management of H. pylori

However, certain populations (e.g. India and Thailand) have a high prevalence of H. pylori infection but a low occurence rate of gastric cancer. It is thought that certain strains of H. pylori (particularly east-Asian cytotoxin-associated gene [cagA]-positive strains) might carry an increased risk of developing gastric cancer, but currently identified cagA genotypes in the Asia-Pacific are not linked to cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 18, 2010, 9:43 PM CT

New endoscopic treatment for Barrett's esophagus

New endoscopic treatment for Barrett's esophagus
Early tumor formation in Barrett's esophagus (BE) can be effectively and safely treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), in combination with previous endoscopic removal of visible lesions, as per a newly released study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.

"Barrett's esophagus is the most important risk factor for the development of esophageal cancer, but there is no generally accepted management strategy for patients with early neoplasia in Barrett's esophagus," said Jacques J.G. H. M. Bergman, MD, of the Academic Medical Center and main author of the study. "Combining endoscopic resection with complete removal of residual Barrett cells with radiofrequency ablation may decrease the recurrence of lesion formation and could potentially limit the number of Barrett's esophagus cases that progress to esophageal cancer."

In this European multi-center, prospective cohort study, doctors reviewed the safety and efficacy of this combined modality approach in 23 BE patients with high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (seven patients) or early cancer (16 patients). Eradication of tumors and abnormal intestinal cells was achieved in 95 percent and 88 percent of patients, and after additional escape endoscopic resection in two patients, in 100 percent and 96 percent of patients, respectively. Complications after RFA included melena (dark tarry stool) and difficulty swallowing. After additional follow-up, no neoplasia recurred.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


February 11, 2010, 8:20 AM CT

Bowel disease link to blood clots

Bowel disease link to blood clots
People living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are known to be at high risk of blood clots when admitted to hospital during a flare-up of their disease but now new research by researchers at The University of Nottingham has shown that those who are not admitted to hospital during flare-ups are also at risk.

The two main types of IBD are Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease which affect about one in every 250 people in the UK. The research published recently in the medical journal, The Lancet, could eventually mean new advice for GPs and patients on how to reduce the risk of developing this dangerous side-effect of bowel disease.

IBD has been known to predispose sufferers to blood clots (thromboembolism) for some time. Clots in the leg veins have a mortality rate of six per cent, rising to as much as 20 per cent if the embolism is in the lungs. Prior research has suggested that most patients who develop thromboembolism do so when their IBD is 'active', i.e. has flared up and they are three times more likely to have a blood clot than non-sufferers. This has led to the use of anti-clotting drugs as standard care for patients with active IBD who are admitted to hospital.

The new research at Nottingham was undertaken to find out what the blood-clotting risk is to patients with IBD who manage their flare-ups outside the hospital environment, with medical care from primary care sources like their GP. The team used the UK General Practice Research Database from November 1987 to July 2001 to compare patients with IBD with controls without the disease. They concluded that non-hospitalised sufferers with active IBD were 16 times more likely to develop a blood clot than the general population.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


January 12, 2010, 8:49 AM CT

Mind-Body Techniques for Treating Celiac Disease

Mind-Body Techniques for Treating Celiac Disease
For adults and children diagnosed with celiac disease, the only therapy is a gluten-free diet, which can be very challenging. Gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are conducting a newly released study to see if mind/body techniques could help patients with celiac disease adhere to the very strict diet.

Celiac disease is a lifelong, digestive disease affecting children and adults. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in almost all food products as well as medicines, vitamins and lip balms. Gluten can damage the small intestine and interfere with absorption of nutrients from food.

"Eating even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine," said Dr. Ali Keshavarzian, vice chairman of medicine and gastroenterologist at Rush. "The damage will occur in anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms".

Hidden sources of gluten are sometimes additives such as modified food starch, preservatives and stabilizers made with wheat. Also, a number of corn and rice products are produced in factories that also manufacture wheat products, and can be contaminated with wheat gluten.

"The purpose of this study is to determine whether participation in one of two mind/body courses can help patients cope with the restricted diet," said Keshavarzian. "It can be very hard and stressful for people with celiac disease to stick to a gluten-free diet."........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


October 20, 2009, 10:13 PM CT

Drinking coffee slows progression of liver disease

Drinking coffee slows progression of liver disease
Patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drink three or more cups of coffee per day have a 53% lower risk of liver disease progression than non-coffee drinkers as per a newly released study led by Neal Freedman, Ph.D., MPH, from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The study observed that patients with hepatitis C-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis who did not respond to standard disease therapy benefited from increased coffee intake. An effect on liver disease was not observed in patients who drank black or green tea. Findings of the study appear in the recent issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 2.2% of the world's population with more than 3 million Americans infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites HCV as the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. and accounts for 8,000 to 10,000 deaths in the country annually. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 3 to 4 million persons contract HCV each year with 70% becoming chronic cases that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

This study included 766 participants enrolled in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial who had hepatitis C-related bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis and failed to respond to standard therapy of the anti-viral drugs peginterferon and ribavirin. At the onset of the study, HALT-C patients were asked to report their typical frequency of coffee intake and portion size over the past year, using 9 frequency categories ranging from 'never' to 'every day' and 4 categories of portion size (1 cup, 2 cups, 3-4 cups, and 5+ cups). A similar question was asked for black and green tea intake. "This study is the first to address the association between liver disease progression correlation to hepatitis C and coffee intake," stated Dr. Freedman.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


October 8, 2009, 7:45 AM CT

Treatment for early stage acute liver failure

Treatment for early stage acute liver failure
This is Dr. William M. Lee from UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

The antidote for acute liver failure caused by acetaminophen poisoning also can treat acute liver failure due to most other causes if given before severe injury occurs, UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists and their colleagues at 21 other institutions have found.

Acute liver failure occurs when cells in the liver die quickly, resulting in toxins being released into the bloodstream and brain. Patients often end up in a hepatic coma as a result of toxins not being cleared by the failing liver. Known causes of acute liver failure include autoimmune hepatitis, drug-induced liver injury, hepatitis A and B, and acetaminophen poisoning.

As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of Gastroenterology, scientists observed that acute liver failure patients in early stages of hepatic comas, when treated with the medicine N-acetylcysteine (NAC), were nearly 2.5 times more likely to survive than those treated only with a placebo.

"NAC is safe, easy to administer, doesn't require intensive care and can be given in community hospitals," said Dr. William M. Lee, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and main author of the study. "NAC is an excellent therapy for non-acetaminophen acute liver failure if the disease is caught early".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


October 1, 2009, 6:58 AM CT

Infliximab reduces need for surgery in ulcerative colitits

Infliximab reduces need for surgery in ulcerative colitits
A newly released study led by Mayo Clinic scientists has observed that ulcerative colitis patients had a 41 percent reduction in colectomy after a year when treated with infliximab, as per a research studyreported in the October 2009 issue of Gastroenterology.

Typically ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (ibd) that causes chronic inflammation of the colon, is characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea. Like Crohn's disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and often lead to colectomy or surgical removal of the colon.

"Our purpose in this study was to see if the use of infliximab for ulcerative colitis would reduce the need for surgery," says William Sandborn, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and main author of the study. "We observed that therapy with infliximab reduced the need for colectomy by 41 percent in comparison to patients treated with placebo."

In this multi-center, international study, 728 patients received placebo or infliximab (5 or 10 mg/kg) for 46 weeks and were monitored for hospitalization or surgical outcomes. Eighty-seven percent (630 of 728) had complete follow-up for the endpoint of whether or not they had colectomy, while the remaining 13 percent (98 of 728) of patients had follow-up for less then a year, with a median follow-up of 6.2 months in these patients. The research showed that therapy with infliximab at 0, 2 and 6 and then every 8 weeks reduced the occurence rate of colectomy through 54 weeks by 41 percent in outpatients with moderately-to-severe active ulcerative colitis.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


September 20, 2009, 7:01 PM CT

New blood tests for gastrointestinal cancers

New blood tests for gastrointestinal cancers
Promising results from two new blood tests that can aid in the early identification of patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers will be presented at Europe's largest cancer congress, ECCO 15 ESMO 34 [1], in Berlin today (Monday September 21). The tests will make GI cancer detection simpler, cost-effective, and more acceptable to patients than current methods, the scientists say.

In the first study, Dr Joost Louwagie, from the company OncoMethylome Sciences, headquartered in Lige, Belgium, will present data on the way in which tumour markers for colorectal cancer were selected, the analytical performance of the test and the first results from a multi-centre feasibility study. "This test has potential to provide a better balance of performance, cost-effectiveness and patient compliance than other options currently available for colorectal cancer screening," he says.

The researchers collected blood before surgery from 193 patients known to have colorectal cancer, as well as from 688 controls undergoing colonoscopy for cancer screening. DNA was extracted from the blood plasma and tested for the presence of DNA methylation of specific genes. DNA methylation is involved in the regulation of protein expression, and methylation or silencing of key genes has been associated with the initiation and progression of tumours. Based on studies conducted in colorectal tissues, methylated genes that were capable of discriminating accurately between malignant and normal tissues were chosen. The researchers then reviewed the best-performing methylated genes in blood samples, with the ultimate goal of providing a sensitive, specific and patient-friendly option for colorectal cancer screening.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 11, 2009, 7:43 AM CT

Second-hand smoking results in liver disease

Second-hand smoking results in liver disease
A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside has observed that even second-hand tobacco smoke exposure can result in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a common disease and rising cause of chronic liver injury in which fat accumulates in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol.

The scientists found fat accumulated in liver cells of mice exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke for a year in the lab. Such fat buildup is a sign of NAFLD, leading eventually to liver dysfunction.

In their study, the scientists focused on two key regulators of lipid (fat) metabolism that are found in a number of human cells as well: SREBP (sterol regulatory element-binding protein) that stimulates synthesis of fatty acids in the liver, and AMPK (adenosine monophosphate kinase) that turns SREBP on and off.

They observed that second-hand smoke exposure inhibits AMPK activity, which, in turn, causes an increase in activity of SREBP. When SREBP is more active, more fatty acids get synthesized. The result is NAFLD induced by second-hand smoke.

"Our study provides compelling experimental evidence in support of tobacco smoke exposure playing a major role in NAFLD development," said Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology, who led the study. "Our work points to SREBP and AMPK as new molecular targets for drug treatment that can reverse NAFLD development resulting from second-hand smoke. Drugs could now be developed that stimulate AMPK activity, and thereby inhibit SREBP, leading to reduced fatty acid production in the liver".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


September 10, 2009, 7:09 AM CT

Rejecting Cancer Safety Fears

Rejecting Cancer Safety Fears
Fears about the cancer causing effects of the second most prescribed group of drugs in the Western world have been put to rest, following the largest ever study into their use.

'Proton pump inhibitors' (PPI) are the most usually used therapy for chronic acid reflux, or 'heartburn', a painful burning sensation in the chest, neck and throat which is experienced by almost a third of people in developed countries.

Regular and prolonged heartburn is known to cause 'non-malignant oesophagitis', a reversible inflammation of the gullet. However if left untreated a condition called Barrett's Oesophagus (BE) occurs in around 10 per cent of sufferers, which can in turn develop into a potentially fatal cancer called oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

BE is twice as common in the UK as it is in the USA, and oesophageal cancer rates in the UK are the highest in the world; up to four times more common than in other European countries.

Despite their excellent safety record, it was unclear if long-term use of PPIs to reduce the discomfort of heartburn could increase the risk of developing either BE or the spread of the associated cancer.

New research carried out at Queen Mary, University of London and Leicester Royal Infirmary, has given the most conclusive evidence yet that this is not the case. The work is reported in the peer evaluated journal Gut.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


September 9, 2009, 7:34 AM CT

Patients with upper gastrointestinal (GI) complaints

Patients with upper gastrointestinal (GI) complaints
Patients with upper gastrointestinal (GI) complaints visit their general practitioner (GP) more often than patients with other conditions. Scientists writing in the open access journal BMC Family Practice observed that people with dyspepsia, heartburn, epigastric discomfort and other upper-abdominal complaints had almost twice as a number of GP contacts, which were ultimately linked to problems in all organ systems. These patients were twice as frequently referred to specialist care and received twice as a number of prescriptions.

Henk van Weert led a team of scientists from the University of Amsterdam who set out to investigate the correlation between psychological conditions and upper-GI symptoms. He said, "Traditionally, psychological factors were held responsible for upper-GI symptoms. With the identification of Helicobacter pylori the etiological paradigm changed dramatically, but eradication treatment has proved to be of only limited value in functional dyspepsia. We aimed to investigate whether psychological and social problems are more frequent in patients with upper GI symptoms".

The scientists observed that the prevalence of upper-GI symptoms was actually linked to a broader pattern of illness-related health care use GI patients' increased health care demands were not restricted to psychosocial problems, but comprised all organ systems. As per van Weert, "Patients with upper-GI symptoms visited their GP twice as often and received up to double the number of prescriptions as control patients. We demonstrated that not psychological and social co-morbidity, but high contact frequency in general is most strongly linked to upper-GI symptoms".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 8:49 PM CT

New biomarker predicts response to hepatitis C treatment

New biomarker predicts response to hepatitis C treatment
Scientists have identified the first genetic marker that predicts response to hepatitis C therapys, and a single letter of DNA code appears to make a huge difference. Duke University Medical Center researchers says the biomarker not only predicts who is most likely to respond to therapy and who isn't, but also may explain why there are such different rates of response among racial and ethnic groups, a phenomenon that has puzzled physicians for years.

"For geneticists, understanding response to therapy for hepatitis C infection has been almost like a Holy Grail," says David Goldstein, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Genome Variation in Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and the senior author of the study. "The side effects of hepatitis therapy can be brutal, and about half the time, the therapy fails to eradicate the virus. This discovery enables us to give patients valuable information that will help them and their doctors decide what is best for them. This is what personalized medicine is all about".

The discovery is reported online in the journal Nature

Hepatitis C is one of the most common infections in the world, affecting an estimated 170 million people. A number of can live with the disease for years without any serious complications. About a quarter of the time, however, the infection leads to cirrhosis of the liver, which, in turn, can lead to liver cancer or death or the need for a transplant. Hepatitis C is the leading cause for liver transplants in the U.S.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


August 13, 2009, 7:06 AM CT

Uncovering the secrets of ulcer-causing bacteria

Uncovering the secrets of ulcer-causing bacteria
Contact with stomach acid keeps the mucin lining the epithelial cell layer in a gel-like state.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

A team of scientists from Boston University, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently made a discovery that changes a long held paradigm about how bacteria move through soft gels. They showed that the bacterium that causes human stomach ulcers uses a clever biochemical strategy to alter the physical properties of its environment, allowing it to move and survive and further colonize its host.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the findings in its most recent issue.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that inhabits various areas of the stomach where it causes chronic, low-level inflammation and is associated with gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. In order to colonize the stomach, H. pylori must cope with highly acidic conditions in which other bacteria are unable to survive. It is well known however, that the bacterium accomplishes this by producing ammonia to neutralize the acid in its surroundings. In addition, newly published research shows it does something else; it changes its environment to enable freer movement.

Acidic conditions within the stomach also work against the bacteria's ability to move freely. This is due to a protein called "mucin," a crucial component of the protective mucus layer in the stomach. In the presence of acid mucin forms a protective gel, which acts as a physical barrier that stops harmful bacteria from reaching the cell wall.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


April 23, 2009, 5:03 AM CT

DNA-based vaccination against chronic hepatitis C

DNA-based vaccination against chronic hepatitis C
Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday 23 April: The first-proof-of-concept for a DNA-based therapeutic vaccination against chronic hepatitis C was announced recently at EASL 2009, the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In the first clinical trial of a therapeutic vaccination using naked DNA delivered by in vivo electroporation (EP), antiviral effects were shown in patients with hepatitis C (HCV). Scientists hope that this will encourage further clinical development. The data also provide further evidence for the antiviral role of the HCV-specific T cell response.

It is estimated that some 3% of the world's population is infected with HCV. In industrialised countries, hepatitis C accounts for 70% of chronic hepatitis cases. One of the main concerns is that HCV infection remains asymptomatic until advanced stages of the disease.

Clearance of HCV infection correlates with activation of the host T cell response. Therefore, in this study, scientists developed a T cell vaccine based on a codon-optimised HCV non-structural (NS) 3/4A DNA-gene expressed under the control of the cytomegalovirus immediate-early promoter (ChronVac-C) delivered by in vivo electroporation (EP). A first phase I/IIa clinical trial in HCV infected patients is currently ongoing.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 27, 2009, 5:24 AM CT

Why African-Americans have lower rate of liver disease?

Why  African-Americans have lower rate of liver disease?
Researchers, including Drs. Jeffrey Browning (left) and Richard Guerrero, have demonstrated that where different ethnic groups store fat in their bodies may account for variations in the rates those groups develop insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

Where different ethnic groups store fat in their bodies may account for differences in the likelihood they'll develop insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

As per research published in the online edition and the recent issue of Hepatology, African-Americans with insulin resistance might harbor factors that protect them from this form of metabolic liver disease.

Despite similarly high rates of associated risk factors such as insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes among African-Americans and Hispanics, African-Americans are less likely than Hispanics to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. Typically the disease is characterized by high levels of triglycerides in the liver and affects as a number of as one-third of American adults.

"If we can identify the factors that protect African-Americans from this liver disease, we appears to be able to extrapolate those to other populations and perhaps develop targeted therapies to help populations prone to NAFLD," said Dr. Jeffrey Browning, assistant professor of internal medicine in the UT Southwestern Advanced Imaging Research Center and the study's senior author.

Prior research has shown that when African-Americans do develop NAFLD, they're less likely to reach the later stages of liver disease. Previous work by Dr. Browning and other UT Southwestern researchers has revealed that NAFLD is more prevalent among Hispanics than African-Americans or Caucasians.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 23, 2009, 10:05 PM CT

Smoking may be lead to pancreatitis

Smoking may be lead to pancreatitis
Smoking may be linked to an increased risk of acute and chronic pancreatitis, as per a report in the March 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, the risk of developing the disease appears to be higher in those who smoke more.

The occurrence of pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas commonly characterized by abdominal pain) has increased in recent decades, as per background information in the article. Acute and chronic pancreatitis are thought to beusually caused by gallstone disease and excessive alcohol use, respectively. Studies have suggested that smoking appears to be linked to damage to the pancreas, but since smoking appears to be linked to alcohol use and risk of gallstone disease, it is difficult to note whether smoking is an independent risk factor for the disease.

Janne Schurmann Tolstrup, M.Sc., Ph.D., of the National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, and his colleagues analyzed results from physical examinations and lifestyle habit self-administered questionnaires of 17,905 participants (9,573 women and 8,332 men) to determine if smoking was linked to an increased risk of acute or chronic pancreatitis independent of alcohol consumption and gallstone disease. Participants were followed up for an average of 20.2 years.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 3, 2009, 6:15 AM CT

Drinking wine lowers risk of Barrett's esophagus

Drinking wine lowers risk of Barrett's esophagus
Drinking one glass of wine a day may lower the risk of Barrett's Esophagus by 56 percent, as per a newly released study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in the recent issue of Gastroenterology Barrett's Esophagus is a precursor to esophageal cancer, the nation's fastest growing cancer with an incidence rate that's jumped 500 percent in the last 30 years.

Barrett's Esophagus affects 5 percent of the population and occurs when heartburn or acid reflux permanently damages the esophageal lining. People with Barrett's Esophagus have a 30- to 40-fold higher risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (a type of esophageal cancer) because the Barrett's Esophagus cells can grow into cancer cells.

Because there are no symptoms or warning signs of Barrett's Esophagus, people discover they have Barrett's Esophagus when an endoscopy for anemia, heartburn or a bleeding ulcer reveals esophageal cells that were damaged, then changed form during the healing process. Currently nothing can be done to treat Barrett's Esophagus; it can only be monitored.

This is the first and largest population-based study to examine the correlation between alcohol consumption and risk of Barrett's Esophagus. Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the Kaiser Permanente study looked at 953 men and women in Northern California between 2002 and 2005 and observed that people who drank one or more glasses of red or white wine a day had less than half the risk (or 56 percent reduced risk) of Barrett's Esophagus. There was no reduction of Barrett's Esophagus risk among people who drank beer or liquor.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


February 20, 2009, 6:13 AM CT

What to do with those aspirin induced stomach ulcer?

What to do with those aspirin induced stomach ulcer?
The occurence rate of low-dose aspirin-induced peptic ulcer seems to be increasing in Japan in conjunction with the increasing proportion of elderly individuals, in whom metabolic syndrome frequently develops. However, a therapeutic and prevention strategy for such peptic ulcers has still not been established.

A research team led by Dr. Satoshi Mochida from Japan addressed this question. Their study will be published on February 14, 2009 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology

In their study, Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy waccording toformed in 68 patients receiving daily low-dose aspirin (81 or 100 mg/day). The endoscopic findings were classified as per the Lanza score, and the scores were compared between groups categorized as per the concomitant use of anti-ulcer drugs and the types of drugs used. In another study, 31 hemorrhagic peptic ulcer patients who had been receiving low-dose aspirin were enrolled. The patients were randomly classified into the proton pump inhibitor (PPI)-treated group and the H2 receptor antagonist (H2RA)-treated group. The administration of low-dose aspirin was continued concomitantly, and endoscopic examinations were performed 8 wk later.

They observed that the Lanza scores (mean SD) of the gastro-mucosal lesions were 1.0 1.9 and 1.9 2.3 in 8 and 16 patients receiving prevention treatment with a PPI and an H2RA, respectively. Both scores were significantly smaller than the scores in 34 patients who were not receiving prevention treatment (4.7 1.0) and in 10 patients receiving cytoprotective anti-ulcer drugs (4.3 1.6). In the prospective study, 18 and 13 patients received a PPI and an H2RA, respectively. Endoscopic examinations revealed that the tissue in the region of the gastro-mucosal lesions had reverted to normal in all patients in the PPI-treated group and in 12 patients (92%) in the H2RA-treated group; no significant differences were observed between the groups.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The number of bariatric surgeries performed in the U.S. increased by 450 percent between 1998 and 2002, a growth the scientists say could be linked with use of the minimally invasive laparoscopic technique, according to an article in the recent issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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