September 9, 2006, 9:20 AM CT
Rejection-free Limb Transplantation
Years ago, the idea of attaching a donor limb onto a patient's body would have been the stuff of science fiction. But to date about two-dozen people around the world have received hand transplants. Thomas Tung, M.D., conducts research within this relatively unorthodox realm of surgery, investigating therapies that could potentially allow the body to accept donor tissue without the use of immunosuppressive medication.
A Washington University plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Tung has reattached patients' own hands, but he has never performed a hand transplant - he feels the health risks of immunosuppressive drugs are too high to warrant the surgery. But with his research, he is working toward the day when reconstructive surgery can make use of donor tissues without the danger of complications from anti-rejection medicine or the risk of tissue rejection.
"Once we figure this out, it's going to open up a new whole field of reconstructive surgery," says Tung, assistant professor of surgery. "It will allow surgeons to replace not just injured hands, but lips, noses, ears, scalp and other specialized tissues anywhere on the body".
To reach this goal, Tung has been researching transplantation of hindlimbs to mice from unrelated donors - but here's the twist - without giving the mice immunosuppressive drugs. At this time, Tung is the only researcher in the United States investigating limb transplantation with this protocol, which uses proteins called costimulation-blocking antibodies.........
Posted by: Scott Permalink Source
September 9, 2006, 9:12 AM CT
Unusual Three-drug Combo For Cancer
An experimental anti-cancer regimen combined a diuretic, a Parkinson's disease medicine and a drug ordinarily used to reverse the effect of sedatives. In research conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the unusual mixture inhibited the growth of aggressive prostate tumors in laboratory mice.
Eventhough their drug choices may seem capricious, the scientists weren't randomly pulling drugs from their shelves. They made their discovery using sophisticated methods for delving into the unique metabolism of cancer cells and then choosing compounds likely to interfere with their growth.
"This study, led by Joseph Ippolito, a very talented M.D./Ph.D. student, demonstrates the importance of looking at tumor metabolism," says senior author Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D, director of the Center for Genome Sciences at the School of Medicine. "Using a broad array of technology, we've obtained a view of the tumor cells' metabolome (the set of small-molecule metabolites found within cells) and revealed aspects that were not expected and could be exploited".
The findings, published in a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, expand upon earlier work by the research group, which demonstrated that aggressive types of neuroendocrine tumors - seen in some types of lung, thyroid and prostate cancers - produce high amounts of a chemical called GABA, a neurotransmitter.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 9, 2006, 6:35 AM CT
Cancer Rates Lowering
A new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations finds that Americans' risk of dying from cancer continues to drop, maintaining a trend that began in the early part of 1990s. However, the rate of new cancers remains stable. The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2003, Featuring Cancer among U.S. Hispanic/Latino Populations" is reported in the October 15, 2006, issue of Cancer*.
The report includes comprehensive data on trends over the past several decades for all major cancers. It shows that the long-term decline in overall cancer death rates continued through 2003 for all races and both sexes combined. The declines were greater among men (1.6 percent per year from 1993 through 2003) than women (0.8 percent per year from 1992 through 2003).
Death rates decreased for 11 of the 15 most common cancers in men and for 10 of the 15 most common cancers in women. The authors attribute the decrease in death rates, in part, to successful efforts to reduce exposure to tobacco, earlier detection through screening, and more effective therapy, saying that continued success will depend on maintaining and enhancing these efforts.
"The greater decline in cancer death rates among men is due in large part to their substantial decrease in tobacco use. We need to enhance efforts to reduce tobacco use in women so that the rate of decline in cancer death rates becomes comparable to that of men," said Betsy A. Kohler, President of the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, Inc (NAACCR).........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 9:12 PM CT
Army Of Cells To Repair Injury
To speed healing at sites of injury - such as heart muscle after a heart attack or brain tissue after a stroke - doctors would like to be able to hasten the formation of new blood vessels. One promising approach is to "mobilize" patients' blood vessel-forming cells, called angiogenic cells, so these cells can reach the injured area.
Recently, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis demonstrated that a drug called AMD3100 can mobilize angiogenic cells from bone marrow of human patients in a matter of hours instead of days, as was the case with a related agent called G-CSF.
Angiogenic cells reside mainly in the bone marrow, and when mobilized they can circulate in the bloodstream, homing to sites of injury and helping repair and regrow blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to tissues.
"Like AMD3100, G-CSF can bring these beneficial cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, but with G-CSF you don't see an increase in angiogenic cells until the fourth day," says senior author Daniel C. Link, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology. "In a patient who has had a heart attack, that may be too late. In fact, two clinical trials of G-SCF found the treatment doesn't improve recovery from heart attacks."........
Posted by: Scott Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 9:01 PM CT
Ban Children From ATVs
Neurosurgeons at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are renewing calls for a ban on use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) by children under age 16 after a 10-year review of injuries caused by the vehicles.
"Children have no experience or training in driving motorized vehicles, and they're driving them on uneven terrain where they can't see what's coming up ahead of them very well," says T.S. Park, M.D., the Shi Hui Huang Professor of Neurological Surgery at the School of Medicine and pediatric neurosurgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "This is leading to an increasing number of fatalities and devastating injuries with lifelong consequences for children and their parents".
Park and his colleagues evaluated all cases seen at the hospital over a 10-year span, identifying 185 patients admitted as a result of ATV-related accidents. Among the study's findings:
- One-third of the patients suffered serious neurological injuries including cerebral hemorrhages and skull fractures.
- Two-thirds of the total patient population had to undergo inpatient rehabilitation.
- Two patients had spinal cord injuries.
- Two patients died
The review was published in a July 2006 pediatric supplement to the Journal of Neurosurgery.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 8:10 PM CT
Liver Diagnosis Breakthrough
Researchers from Mayo Clinic have recently developed a new technique for using MRI to measure the hardness or elasticity of the liver. This exciting new technology which he is called promising a revolutionary new technique for detecting fibrosis of the liver. Currently liver fibrosis is diagnosed using needle biopsy. This new technology promises a new way of diagnosing liver fibrosis using a painless and a low-risk procedure. These findings are published in the latest edition of John radiology.
"This is potentially an important diagnostic advance, since conventional imaging techniques, such as CT, MRI and ultrasound are not capable of identifying liver fibrosis previous to the onset of cirrhosis," says Richard Ehman, M.D., Mayo researcher and lead investigator on the study.
The healthy liver is very soft in comparison to most other tissues and particularly in comparison to a liver with cirrhosis, which is rock hard. The development by Dr. Ehman and colleagues applies vibrations to the liver and then utilizes a modified form of MRI to obtain pictures of the mechanical waves passing through the organ. The imaging can be accomplished in as little as 20 seconds. The wave pictures are then processed to generate a quantitative image of tissue stiffness -- called an elastogram.........
Posted by: Sue Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 5:16 AM CT
Thirty Percent Of Nurses Report abuse
Almost a third of the nurses who took part in a large-scale study reported that they had been subjected to both physical and verbal abuse in the last 4 working weeks and a quarter had considered resigning as a result, as per research in the latest issue of the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Two-thirds of the 2,407 nurses who took part in the survey, led by the University of Tasmania and supported by the Australian Nursing Federation, reported some form of abuse during the period covered.
This ranged from being sworn at, slapped and spat upon to being bitten, choked and stabbed. The abused nurses, who all worked in Tasmania, reported an average of four verbal incidents and between two to three physical incidents.
Sixty-nine percent of nurses who had been physically abused had been struck with a hand, fist or elbow and 34 percent had been bitten.
A further 49 percent said they had been pushed or shoved, 48 percent had been scratched and 38 percent said that someone had spat at them.
"We also discovered that that six percent had been choked and just under one percent had been stabbed" adds lead author Professor Gerald A Farrell, now based at La Trobe University School of Nursing and Midwifery in Victoria, Australia.
Verbal abuse was most likely to take the form of rudeness, shouting, sarcasm and swearing. Two percent said that their home or family had also been threatened. Patients and visitors were the most likely people to abuse nurses, but four percent of nurses who reported physical abuse said that it was carried out by another nurse and three percent by a doctor.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 4:49 AM CT
Migraine Prevention In Women
Migraines are more common in the United States than diabetes, osteoarthritis or asthma. Of the 28 million people who experience migraines in this country, 18 million are women. Eventhough prevention is very effective in managing this disorder, only 3 percent to 5 percent of women seek preventive treatment.
To better understand this issue and provide guidance for physicians treating female migraine patients, Mayo Clinic in Arizona Women's Health Internal Medicine physicians evaluated all the major studies on the disorder reported in the past five years. They compiled study results into a concise review for clinicians, reported in the August 2006 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
"Most people with migraines first seek help from their primary care provider instead of a neurologist or a specialist. The purpose of our paper is to provide more information for primary care physicians who typically manage these cases," says Beverly Tozer, M.D., who led the review.
The review emphasized preventive therapies for migraines at different stages of a female's life. As per Dr. Tozer, good evidence suggests that hormonal changes effect migraine development, with migraines being most prevalent during the reproductive years.
"Almost one-fourth of women in their reproductive years experience migraines," Dr. Tozer says. "During these years, women are building both their families and their careers. The predominance of this disorder in women with its associated social, functional and economic consequences makes migraine an important issue in women's health".........
Posted by: Daniel Permalink Source
September 6, 2006, 10:02 PM CT
Keep Slapping On That Sunscreen
How often do you apply sunscreen? If it's anything less than once every 2 hours, you might be better off not using any in the first place.
So says Kerry Hanson, a chemist at the University of California at Riverside. She and her colleagues exposed human skin samples grown in the lab to UV radiation while they were covered with three common.
UV filters found in sunscreens: benzophenone-3, octocrylene and octylmethoxycinnamate. After just 1 hour, they found each compound had sunk into the skin, meaning its protective effect was greatly reduced. Worse, Hanson's team observed that the samples contained more reactive oxygen species (ROS) than skin exposed to UV with no sunscreen on it. ROS are free radicals that can damage skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer (Free Radical Biology and Medicine, DOI: 10.1016/j. freeradbiomed.2006.06.011).
The Skin Cancer Foundation in New York recommends that people go no more than 2 hours between reapplications of sunscreen. Our findings tend to support that, says Hanson.
It might actually be necessary to reapply even more often. One way of counteracting free radicals, Hanson says, might be to add antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to sunscreens. "In prior work, we've shown that antioxidants can help neutralise ROS in the skin," she says, though she has yet to perform the same experiment with sunscreen.........
Posted by: George Permalink Source
September 6, 2006, 9:49 PM CT
How safe is drinking water?
Are disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water harmful to an unborn fetus? As per a research studyin the recent issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology (available online September 5), a team of scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health headed by David A. Savitz, Ph.D., Director of the Center of Excellence in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Disease Prevention at MSSM, and formerly Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have determined that drinking water DBPs -- in the range usually encountered in the US -- do not affect fetal survival. This finding is especially important because prior research has suggested that exposure to elevated levels of drinking water DBPs might cause pregnancy loss.
The interaction of chlorine with organic material in raw water supplies produces chemical DBPs of health concern, including trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). Several epidemiological studies have addressed potential reproductive toxicity of DBPs. The strongest support in ealier studies was noted for pregnancy loss, including stillbirth.
Scientists looked at three locations with varying DBP levels and reviewed 2,409 women in early pregnancy to assess tap water DBP concentrations, water use, other risk factors and pregnancy outcome. Tap water concentrations were measured in the distribution system on a weekly or biweekly basis. DBP concentration and ingested amount, bathing/showering and integrated exposure that included ingestion and bathing/showering were considered. Based on 258 pregnancy losses, the finding did not show an increased risk of pregnancy loss in relation to ingested amounts of DBPs.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source