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September 25, 2006, 9:32 PM CT

Fampridine-sr Study For Multiple Sclerosis

Fampridine-sr Study For Multiple Sclerosis
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. today announced positive results from its Phase 3 clinical trial of Fampridine-SR on walking in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Statistical significance was achieved on all three efficacy criteria defined in the Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A significantly greater proportion of people taking Fampridine-SR had a consistent improvement in walking speed, the study's primary outcome, in comparison to people taking placebo (34.8 percent vs. 8.3 percent) as measured by the Timed 25-Foot Walk (p<0.001). In addition, the effect was maintained in this study throughout the 14-week therapy period (p<0.001) and there was a statistically significant improvement in the 12-Item MS Walking Scale (MSWS-12) for walking responders vs. non-responders (p<0.001).

The average increase in walking speed over the therapy period in comparison to baseline was 25.2 percent for the drug group vs. 4.7 percent for the placebo group. Increased response rate on the Timed 25-Foot Walk was seen across all four major types of MS. In addition, statistically significant increases in leg strength were seen in both the Fampridine-SR Timed Walk responders (p<0.001) and the Fampridine-SR Timed Walk non-responders (p=0.046) in comparison to placebo. The Company intends to present comprehensive data at an upcoming medical meeting.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 25, 2006, 6:01 PM CT

Breakthrough In Heart Research

Breakthrough In Heart Research Live and dead heart cells. (Credit: Elinor Griffiths)
For the first time ever, scientists at the University of Bristol have been able to directly measure energy levels inside living heart cells, in real time, using the chemical that causes fireflies to light up. This is hailed as a major breakthrough in research and could lead to improved recovery of the heart when it is re-started after a heart attack or cardiac surgery.

Dr Elinor Griffiths said: "Being able to see exactly what's going on in heart cells will be of great benefit to understanding heart disease.".

The research is published today (22nd September, 2006) in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The 'power stations' within heart cells that make energy are called mitochondria. They convert energy from food into chemical energy called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

Under normal conditions, mitochondria are able to make ATP extremely rapidly when the heart is stressed, such as during exercise or in 'fight-or-flight' mode.

However, if the cells are made to beat suddenly from rest, a situation that happens when the heart is re-started after cardiac surgery or a heart attack, the team found there is a lag phase where the supply of ATP drops before mitochondrial production starts again, potentially preventing the heart from beating properly.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 21, 2006, 4:52 AM CT

New Link In The Evolution Of Immunity

New Link In The Evolution Of Immunity Gray whale
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have discovered a unique evolutionary link between the immune systems of fish and mammals in the form of a primitive version of B cells, white blood cells of the immune system. Their studies link the evolution of the adaptive immune system in mammals, where B cells produce antibodies to fight infection, to the more primitive innate immunity in fish, where they observed that B cells take part in phagocytosis (literally: cell eating), the process by which cells of the immune system ingest foreign particles and microbes.

The finding, which appears in the online version of Nature Immunology and will be featured on the cover of the October issue, represents a sizeable evolutionary step for the mammalian immune system and offers a potential new strategy for developing much-needed fish vaccines.

"When examining fish B cells we see them actively attacking and eating foreign bodies, which is a behavior that, as per the current dogma, just shouldn't happen in B cells," said J. Oriol Sunyer, a professor in Penn Vet's Department of Pathobiology. "I believe it is evidence for a very real correlation between the most primitive forms of immunological defense, which has survived in fish, and the more advanced, adaptive immune response seen in humans and other mammals".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


September 21, 2006, 4:44 AM CT

Eculizumab For The Treatment Of PNH

Eculizumab For The Treatment Of PNH Image courtesy of www.hmds.org.uk
A study led by Dr Peter Hillmen of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, relating to an uncommon and severe haemolytic anaemia known as paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH), was reported in the current issue of The New England Journal (NEJM). In the Phase III efficacy study, TRIUMPH, 87 patients were treated at 34 sites in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. The data showed clinically significant improvements in anaemia and the quality of life for patients with PNH.

The study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that tested the safety and efficacy of eculizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against complement protein C5, that inhibits terminal complement activation. Patients received either placebo or eculizumab intravenously. Eculizumab therapy significantly improved anaemia in patients as both primary endpoints were achieved, including median transfusion rate and haemoglobin stabilization over six months. The median transfusion rate was reduced from 10 units per patient with placebo to 0 units per patient with eculizumab (p<0.001). Haemoglobin stabilization was achieved by 49&#37; of eculizumab patients as in comparison to 0&#37; for placebo (p<0.001). Patients treated with eculizumab also experienced significantly less intravascular hemolysis, fatigue, pain, and shortness of breath, together with improvements in overall health status and functioning.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


September 20, 2006, 9:40 PM CT

White Blood Cells And Transplanted Kidneys

White Blood Cells And  Transplanted Kidneys
In an example of biological irony, the same white blood cell chemistry known to damage kidneys used for transplants may also help prevent such damage, as per a federally funded study in genetically engineered mice at Johns Hopkins.

Scientists have long known that when blood flow is cut off and then returned to transplanted kidneys or other organs, immune system cells called T lymphocytes produce toxic natural chemicals that contribute to ischemic reperfusion injury (IRI). Nature cannot distinguish between deliberate surgical wounds needed to remove and re-implant a donor kidney and other kinds of organ damage in which certain toxic chemicals are needed to clean up or remove bad tissue.

But in the new study reported in the recent issue of The Journal of Immunology, the Hopkins team reports that that T cells can also play a role in reducing cellular damage in IRI kidneys, as per Hamid Rabb, M.D., medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

IRI occurs in 30 percent to 40 percent of kidneys removed from dead donors, resulting in lower kidney survival rates, shortened kidney life and a cost increase of approximately &#36;20,000 per patient from the initial hospital stay and therapy alone, as per Rabb. Researchers therefore are interested in identifying means of preventing or rapidly treating IRI, but one barrier to greater understanding has been the inability to detect the lymphocytes in the kidney during the first critical six hours after blood flow is returned.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


September 19, 2006, 10:06 PM CT

Too little fat! May not be the best thing

Too little fat! May not be the best thing
Too much body fat may be a bad thing, but there is increasing evidence that too little fat also may have some surprisingly negative consequences.

Scientists at UC Irvine have observed that fat droplets - tiny balls of fat that exist in most cells - appear to have an intriguing role to play when it comes to regulating excess proteins in the body. In a study with fruit flies, developmental biologist Steven Gross and his colleagues observed that these fat droplets served as storage depots for a type of protein used primarily by the cell to bind DNA and organize it in the nucleus. The fat keeps this extra protein out of the way until it is needed so that it does not cause harm within the cell. The findings imply that fat droplets could also serve as storage warehouses for other excess proteins that might otherwise cause harm if not sequestered. The study appears in the current issue of Current Biology.

"We were surprised to find that these droplets appear to be a mechanism for cleaning up excess proteins before they cause trouble," said Gross, associate professor of developmental and cell biology. "Obviously, everything in the body should be balanced. There is no doubt that huge amounts of fat tax your system in a lot of ways. But there now appears to be growing evidence that fat is also important for keeping us healthy".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


September 15, 2006, 1:37 PM CT

Genetic Susceptibility For Viral Encephalitis

Genetic Susceptibility For Viral Encephalitis Herpes virus
The study is being published September 14 in Science X-Press, an advanced, online edition of the journal Science.

In the study, the scientists suggest that herpes simplex encephalitis may reflect a single gene immunodeficiency that confers susceptibility to herpes simplex virus, an idea that contrasts with the prevailing scientific theory of how genes work to make people vulnerable to infections. These new findings, the study added, may apply to other infectious diseases as well.

In the study, researchers focused on blood cells from two French children with a deficiency for UNC-93B, an endoplasmic reticulum protein involved in the recognition of pathogens. When infected with herpes simplex virus-1, the UNC-93B-deficient cells were unable to produce natural interferons alpha, beta, and gamma (IFNs -?/? and -?). Interferons are produced by the immune system to fight infections and tumors.

This deficiency resulted in high rates of herpes simplex virus-1 proliferation and cell death. Assuming these findings extend to neurons, they provide a plausible mechanism for herpes simplex encephalitis.

"We and our colleagues have identified recessive UNC-93B deficiency as a genetic etiology of herpes simplex encephalitis in otherwise healthy patients," said Professor Bruce Beutler, M.D., one of three Scripps Research researchers who contributed to the study. "The discovery of this genetic cause for herpes simplex encephalitis not only broadens our understanding of these types of immunodeficiencies, but also has important therapeutic implications-some of these patients could benefit from recombinant interferon alpha (IFN-?) therapy, just as patients with low levels of naturally occurring interferon gamma (IFN-?) benefit from a similar life-saving approach".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


September 13, 2006, 9:56 PM CT

Viruses Switch Grip To Gain Upper Hand

Viruses Switch Grip To Gain Upper Hand Mavis Agbandje-McKenna (left), a structural biologist at the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute, and UF research scientist Hyun-Joo
Carbohydrates can be attractive, particularly when they come packaged in candy bars or never-ending bowls of pasta.

Even viruses - those bits of occasionally harmful genetic material enclosed in shells of protein and fat - crave carbs. Except viruses aren't seeking a taste treat. They want to latch onto the carbohydrates that protrude from the surface of our cells and mount an invasion.

By changing which carbohydrates they attach to, viruses are able to infect cells more efficiently - a finding that may prove valuable to researchers seeking ways to fight cancer or brain diseases, say University of Florida scientists writing in the current Journal of Biological Chemistry. The discovery also helps explain how flu and other viruses are able to stay a step ahead of the body's own versatile immune system.

"If you think about the flu virus, a few simple amino acid changes can be the difference between a virus your body can defend against and one that will make you sick," said Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D., an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UF College of Medicine and senior author of the paper. "It seems structural juxtapositions of amino acids play a role in determining how viruses recognize cells and whether the viruses are harmful".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


September 11, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

An Artificial Cornea In Sight

An Artificial Cornea In Sight
If eyes are "the windows of the soul," corneas are the panes in those windows. They shield the eye from dust and germs. They also act as the eye's outermost lens, contributing up to 75 percent of the eye's focusing power. On Sept. 11 in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, chemical engineer Curtis W. Frank will present a novel biomimetic material that's finding its way into artificial corneas. It's a hydrogel, or polymer that holds a lot of water. That material may promise a new view for at least 10 million people worldwide who are blind due to damaged or diseased corneas or a number of millions more who are nearsighted or farsighted due to misshapen corneas.

Called DuoptixTM, the material can swell to a water content of 80 percent--about the same as biological tissues. It's made of two interwoven networks of hydrogels. One network, made of polyethylene glycol molecules, resists the accumulation of surface proteins and inflammation. The other network is made of molecules of polyacrylic acid, a relative of the superabsorbent material in diapers.

"Think of a fishnet, but think of a 3-D fishnet," says Frank, the W. M. Keck, Sr. Professor in Engineering and a professor, by courtesy, of chemistry and of materials science and engineering. "It's a strong, stretchy material." That makes it able to survive suturing during surgery. The biocompatible hydrogel is transparent and permeable to nutrients, including glucose, the cornea's favorite food.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source


September 9, 2006, 9:20 AM CT

Rejection-free Limb Transplantation

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



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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