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June 10, 2006, 6:09 PM CT

Vaccine Against Nicotine Addiction

Vaccine Against Nicotine Addiction
UCSF's Habit Abatement Clinic is testing a vaccine that enlists help from the immune system to keep nicotine away from the brain. The vaccine is designed to help smokers quit and to limit the urge to start smoking again.

Called NicVax, the investigational vaccine is being developed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals to prevent and treat nicotine addiction and to help people quit smoking. Normally when a smoker inhales, nicotine is carried by the bloodstream to the brain, where it triggers neuro-receptors to generate positive sensations that can lead to addiction. The vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the small nicotine molecule. Bound to these antibodies, nicotine molecules no longer can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain.

"With little or no nicotine reaching the brain, smoking is less rewarding. That gives the smoker a chance to change the behavioral and social factors that also influence smoking," said Victor Reus, MD, principal investigator for the study at UCSF.

Because immune antibodies remain in the body for some time, Reus said it is hoped that the vaccine also will prevent relapse. When a vaccinated smoker lights up months after quitting, the person should not experience the nicotine-triggered reward that tempts most people back into the habit.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


May 30, 2006, 10:45 PM CT

A Closer Look At Smoker Lungs

A Closer Look At Smoker Lungs Image courtesy of SMM
Aided by a powerful imaging technique, researchers have discovered they can detect smoking-related lung damage in healthy smokers who otherwise display none of the telltale signs of tobacco use.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to probe deeper into smokers' lungs by tracking the movement in the respiratory organs of a harmless gas known as helium. Helium can be inhaled and visually detected via the widely used diagnostic technique known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces high-contrast images of the body's soft tissues. The use of helium is a departure from traditional MRI, which typically distinguishes body tissues from one another by tracking differences in water content.

Writing in the journal Radiology, the UW-Madison researchers suggest that in comparison to existing imaging methods, the helium-based approach could enable doctors to assess lung health more accurately, as well as spot smoking-associated diseases much sooner.

"It's one thing to see a [lung] disease that was already diagnosed, but another to see changes that no one predicted were there," says lead author Sean Fain, a UW-Madison assistant professor of medical physics. "This approach allows us to look at lung micro-structures that are on the scale of less than a millimeter."........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


May 24, 2006, 0:32 AM CT

Alcohol Abuse Increases The Risk Of Pneumonia

Alcohol Abuse Increases The Risk Of Pneumonia
The results of a paper reported in the journal Chest (129(5):1219-25) show that alcoholic and ex-alcoholic individuals have a higher risk of suffering from community acquired pneumonia. Eventhough mortality did not differ significantly, an increase of the severeness of the disease was shown, and consequently, an increase of the morbidity and the complications was revealed. This study was conducted by the Pneumonia Multidiscipline Group of Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, led by Dr. Antoni Torres, from the Institut Clínic del Torax, and leader of the IDIBAPS Group Management and Prevention of the Pulmonary Disease.

The increase of the risk of suffering from pneumonia in alcoholic patients exists due to the fact that the activity of their immune system decreases. This decrease not only is observed in alcoholic, but also in ex alcoholic patients. The daily quantity of alcohol consumption in order to include patients in the group of alcohol abuse was of 80 g in man and 60 g in women, the equivalent of 2 or 3 beers and 3 or 4 cups of wine.

Results are particularly relevant since alcohol is the more abused drug in Spain, and causes a total of 12,000 deaths every year. In addition, pneumonia is a very frequent disease, with 10 patients every 1,000 inhabitants in Catalonia. This number is much higher if we take into account in the population over 65. This is the reason why the consequences of this study, and the possible vaccination of alcoholic of ex-alcoholic individuals against Pneumococcus, would affect a very high number of people. Alcohol consumption could turn into a new risk factor or a worsening factor to take into account in cases of community acquired pneumonia.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


May 23, 2006, 11:44 PM CT

Spacers Better Than Nebulizers For Childhood Asthma

Spacers Better Than Nebulizers For Childhood Asthma
Two therapy methods for asthma attacks -- spacers and nebulizers -- are equally effective in staving off hospital admissions, a new review shows. However, at least for children, spacers mean shorter stays in emergency departments.

The review authors, led by Christopher Cates, M.D., of the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, analyzed information from 25 studies of 2,066 children ages 2 years and older, and 614 adults with asthma. All used either spacers or nebulizers to deliver beta-2 agonists, medications that help "open" the lungs to ease breathing in asthma attacks.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

A spacer is a holding chamber attached to devices for inhaling asthma medication. A nebulizer is an electrically powered machine that turns liquid medicine into a mist breathed directly into the lungs through a face mask or mouthpiece. Nebulizers are the traditional method for treating asthma attacks, and are still used more often in hospitals.

The authors found that spacers and nebulizers work equally well for treating non-life-threatening asthma attacks, in terms of need for inpatient admission and the number of days in the hospital.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


May 22, 2006, 1:58 PM CT

Less Is More

Less Is More
Results from the largest controlled clinical trial of fluid management methods in patients with severe lung injury provide important new information on the risks and benefits of patient care strategies currently used in the intensive care unit. The two studies that comprised the trial showed that for patients with acute lung injury or its more severe form, acute respiratory distress syndrome, less fluid is better than more, and a shorter, less invasive catheter is as helpful as and safer than a longer catheter for monitoring patients. The trial was conducted by researchers from the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Clinical Research Network of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Investigators from the Fluid and Catheter Treatment Trial (FACTT) presented the findings May 21 at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference in San Diego. The results were also published early online concurrently by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study comparing the use of the longer pulmonary artery catheter to the shorter central venous catheter for managing patients would be reported in the May 25 print issue of NEJM; the study evaluating fluid management strategies will appear in the June 15 print issue of NEJM.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


May 14, 2006, 11:02 AM CT

Ionic Air Purifiers Aggravates Asthma

Ionic Air Purifiers Aggravates Asthma
With more and more people having respiratory problems, whether as a result of asthma, pollen allergies or simply as a reaction to pollutants, air purifiers for domestic use are becoming a big market.

Some of the more common typers of air cleaners use either HEPA filters or ionization technology. Air purifiers which use ionization electrically charges the air particles and draws them to metals plates that captures them, and therefore circumvents the issues of filter-change, motor-noise and draft associated with devices that use HEPA filters.

However, a review of ionizing air purifiers published by Consumer Reports indicate that, ironically, these devices may even aggravate respiratory problems. The root of the problem is that these gadgets emit ozone as a by-product. What's wrong about ozone?

Experts agree that an ozone concentration more than 80 ppb for eight hours or longer can cause coughing, wheezing, and chest pain while worsening asthma and deadening your sense of smell. It also raises sensitivity to pollen, mold, and other respiratory allergy triggers, and may cause permanent lung damage.

As per their survey, only 2 out of the 7 room air cleaners tested performed well in eliminating smoke, dust and pollen. And worse, the 5 poorly rated ones were also found to emit ozone higher than the acceptable levels. And if you believe that by getting the more expensive one, you're on the safe side, well, think again. Or better, check out the Consumer Report's ratings for Room Air Cleaners.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


May 3, 2006, 11:11 PM CT

Drug Could Help Quit Smoking

Drug Could Help Quit Smoking
Smokers who try to quit using existing medications, such as nicotine patches or Zyban, are about twice as likely to succeed as those who don't use medicine or are prescribed placebos during clinical trials.

But despite the relative effectiveness of medications currently on the market, more than 80 per cent of quitters will be smoking again within a year, as per a review in the latest IJCP, the UK-based International Journal of Clinical Practice.

A new kind of drug has now been developed that could improve long-term quit rates, as per Dr Jonathan Foulds from the Tobacco Dependence Program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Varenicline is being evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration under a six-month priority review which began in late 2005.

"Trials carried out so far have yielded promising results, suggesting that varenicline could be a major advance in the therapy of nicotine dependence" says Dr Foulds.

"Drugs are normally earmarked for priority review by the FDA if they are felt to address health needs that are not currently being adequately met.

"What makes varenicline different to existing medicine is that it is the first therapy specifically designed to target the neurobiological mechanism of nicotine dependence."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


May 2, 2006, 0:17 AM CT

Children Living Near Major Roads Face Higher Asthma Risk

Children Living Near Major Roads Face Higher Asthma Risk
Young children who live near a major road are significantly more likely to have asthma than children who live only blocks away, as per a research studythat appears in the May 1 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study found that children living within 75 meters (about 82 yards) of a major road had a 50 percent greater risk of having had asthma symptoms in the past year than were children who lived more than 300 meters (about 328 yards) away. Higher traffic volumes on the different roads were also correlation to increased rates of asthma.

"These findings are consistent with an emerging body of evidence that local traffic around homes and schools may be causing an increase in asthma," says lead author Rob McConnell, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. "This is a potentially important public health problem because a number of children live near major roads".

More than 5,000 children ages 5 to 7 were involved in the study which was an expansion of the Children's Health Study, currently underway in 13 southern California communities. The scientists determined how far each participating child lived from a major road - a freeway, large highway or a feeder road to a highway.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 30, 2006, 11:39 PM CT

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes
A quality improvement initiative at four school-based health centers in Cincinnati has resulted in significant improvements in outcomes for children with asthma.

The results of the project provide support for the concept of school-based health centers in urban areas and for community partnerships to improve child health, as per scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center involved in the initiative. They will present their study of the project at 3:15 p.m. Pacific time Saturday, April 29, at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Francisco.

"Improving outcomes through evidence-based care shows that school-based health centers can improve child health," says Mona Mansour, M.D., a doctor at Cincinnati Children's and medical director of the school-based health centers. Dr. Mansour co-authored the study with Barbara Rose, M.P.H., who was project manager of the quality improvement initiative.

Rose and Dr. Mansour followed 212 children with asthma who are enrolled in four school-based health centers in Cincinnati that are operated by Neighborhood Health Care, Inc., a federally qualified health center organization. The centers provide comprehensive primary, mental and dental health services to children in grades K-8. Cincinnati Children's provides physicians and nurse practitioners for these centers and collaborates with the Cincinnati Health Department, which provides school nurses; the Cincinnati Public Schools; and, parents of children with asthma.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 17, 2006, 10:28 PM CT

Smoking May Cause Far More Cancer Deaths In Asian Americans

Smoking May Cause Far More Cancer Deaths In Asian Americans
Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese American males living in California die of cancer at three times the rate of South Asian females in California, whose cancer mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world.

As per a new study by UC Davis Cancer Center researchers, such disparities between genders and Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups can be explained almost entirely by tobacco smoke exposure - suggesting that if smoking were eliminated, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans all would have very low cancer mortality rates, with minimal variation from group to group.

"Among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, non-lung cancer death rates, like lung cancer death rates, correlate very closely with their smoke exposures," said Bruce N. Leistikow, associate professor of public health sciences at UC Davis and a leading expert on the epidemiology of smoking-related illnesses. "If all Asian and Pacific Islander Americans had as little smoke exposure as South Asian females in California, our work suggests that their cancer mortality rates across the board could be as low as that of the South Asian females."

South Asian females in California had a cancer mortality rate of 58 deaths per 100,000 people per year. The cancer mortality for the United States as a whole was 193.5.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
The use of a nighttime air pump is the preferred therapy for sleep apnea because of questions about the safety and effectiveness of surgery, according to a new review of previous studies.The reviewers, led by Supriya Sunduram of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in England, conclude that despite widespread use of surgery as a means of improving sleep quality, it should not be recommended because of "uncertainty surrounding its safety, continued effectiveness and inconsistent" results.

Medicineworld.org: Archives of lung news blog

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