Changes To Medicare Items Good Start On Removing Red Tape, Australia

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has welcomed the changes to simplify the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) that the Federal Government will introduce in May next year. However, the RDAA has warned the government that whilst welcome the changes will do little to attract doctors to rural practice. The Association continues to call on the government to introduce a rural rescue package to help attract and retain doctors in rural practice.

“The RDAA has been calling on the government for some time to simplify the MBS, reduce red tape and allow payment for more than one doctor who treats a patient in emergency circumstances” RDAA CEO, Steve Sant, said.

“The reduction in the number of items through merging of items and changes to item description will remove much of the problem around ensuring that correct items are claimed. Particularly welcome is the change that allows more than one doctor to claim payment when treating a patient at imminent danger of death.

“In addition to improving the MBS the Government must do more to support rural health services including the introduction of a rural rescue package. A rural rescue package would provide additional incentives to doctor in a direct relationship to how remote their practice is. The government in undertaking reform of the health system must address the ongoing heath workforce issues in the bush and the poor health outcomes of people who live in the country.

“The changes to the MBS were done in consultation with the RDAA and other medical organisations, the RDAA looks forward to working with the government to put in place more significant improvements to the MBS in the new year.”

Rural Doctors Association of Australia

AACN And AONE Announce Plans For Nurse Manager Certification Exam – Partnership Follows Launch Of Nurse Manager Orientation Program

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) announced that they have expanded their partnership to develop the first certification exam designed exclusively for nurse managers.

This latest partnership effort is rooted in AACN’s and AONE’s 6-year collaboration to provide education and development resources for nurse managers. Development of a nurse manager certification program is a logical next step following the highly successful release last year of the Essentials of Nurse Manager Orientation (ENMO), a comprehensive e-learning program on which the two organizations collaborated. Providing tools to support and validate the knowledge, skills and abilities of nurse managers is of vital importance given the high influence they have on the quality of patient care and the work environment in which nurses deliver that care.

AACN Certification Corporation completed a study of nurse manager practices which found that frontline nurse managers are generally prepared for their leadership roles through on-the-job training. This certification will provide a way for nurse managers to validate that they have acquired the essential knowledge and skills necessary to be effective in their role.

The relationship between AACN and AONE began in 2002 when the two organizations, in collaboration with the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), developed the Leadership Learning Domain Framework for nurse managers and the resulting Nurse Manager Inventory Tool. The Inventory Tool and ENMO fill a previously unaddressed need organizations and individuals had for assessing and developing nurse manager leadership skills.

“We are extremely pleased to expand our strong and highly valued partnership with AONE to provide essential resources for nurse managers,” said Wanda Johanson, RN, MN, chief executive officer of AACN. “The development of this certification exam will give nurse managers a way to develop and validate their knowledge as they strive to excel in their demanding roles, carrying out complex leadership responsibilities that directly affect the quality of patient and family care.”

“As an organization dedicated to shaping the future of healthcare through innovative nursing leadership, AONE is proud to offer a certification exam for nurse managers, which will significantly add to our depth of nurse leader resources,” said Pamela Thompson, MS, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer for AONE. “Our continued partnership with AACN makes it possible to fill this need in a comprehensive and expedient manner.”

More information on the Leadership Learning Domain Framework, Nurse Manager Inventory Tool, and the Essentials of Nurse Manager Orientation is available on both organizations’ web sites at aacn and at aone.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world, representing the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses. Its international headquarters are located in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Founded in 1969, the association has more than 240 chapters worldwide and is working toward a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families, where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. Complete information about AACN is available online at www.aacn.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) is the national professional organization for nurses who design, facilitate and manage care. With more than 6,000 members, AONE is the voice of nursing leadership in healthcare. Since 1967, the organization has provided leadership, professional development, advocacy and research to advance nursing practice and patient care, promote nursing leadership excellence and shape public policy for healthcare. AONE’s 48 affiliated state and metropolitan chapters and its alliances with state hospital associations give the organization’s initiatives a regional and local presence. AONE is a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association.

American Organization of Nurse Executives

Bionovo To Present At The 2nd Annual Menopause Pharmacotherapeutic Development Conference On Jan. 19 In Philadelphia

Bionovo, Inc. (OTC
Bulletin Board: BNVI) will participate in the CBI Menopause
Pharmacotherapeutic Development Conference taking place Jan. 18-19 at the
Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue in Philadelphia. Dr. Isaac Cohen, President
and CEO, Bionovo and Dr. Mary Tagliaferri, Chief Medical Officer, Bionovo
will present details about the development of MF101, the company’s lead
candidate currently being evaluated in Phase 2 trials as a safer, effective
alternative to traditional hormone therapy.

The presentation, titled “MF101 — An Estrogen Beta Receptor Agonist
for Menopausal Hot Flashes: Mechanism of Action and Selectivity,” is
scheduled for 9:00 a.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 19.

To access a live audio webcast or the subsequent archived recording,
log on to bionovo. Please connect to Bionovo’s website several
minutes prior to the start of the live webcast to ensure adequate time for
any software download that may be necessary. For additional information on
the conference, visit: cbinet/menopause.

About Bionovo, Inc.

Bionovo is a drug development company focusing on the discovery of
novel pharmaceutical agents for cancer and women’s health. The company has
two drugs in clinical testing. MF101 is in Phase 2 for quality of life
conditions associated with menopause and BZL101 is in Phase 1/2 for the
treatment of advanced breast cancer. The company has an additional pipeline
of drugs in development for breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and other
menopausal symptoms with a total of 5 drug candidates expected to be in
clinical trials by the end of 2007. The company is developing its products
in close collaboration with leading U.S. academic research centers,
including the University of California, San Francisco, University of
Colorado Health Sciences Center, University of California, Berkeley, and
the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. For
further information please visit: bionovo.

Bionovo, Inc.

Biomedical Research Highlights Of AVS 55th International Symposium & Exhibition In Boston, Oct. 19-24

Medical highlights of papers from among the 1,300 talks at the AVS 55th International Symposium in Boston are described below. Overall, the meeting showcases advances in technology, materials research, nanotechnology, alternative energy, and medicine.

Cell “Printing” Paves Way to Artificial Organs

Miniature Implantable Medical Devices

Helping Lost Neurons Find Their Way

Microfiber Scaffolds Help Repair Peripheral Nerve Injuries

The Future Rise of Proton Therapy

Weighing Hepatitis C Virus’ Hold on Membranes

Tweezing Cells and Molecules

Rapid Detection of Single Biological Molecules


Despite the success of organ transplantation surgery, many people in need of transplants die while on the waiting list because of the scarcity of donated organs. Artificial, lab-grown organs offer one potential solution to the problem. One novel engineering technique involves the use of modified thermal ink-jet printers to “print” cells, creating the complex three-dimensional structure of real tissues. A lingering question, however, is how well cells survive the process.

Bioengineering graduate student Xiaofeng Cui of Clemson University tested this with a comprehensive study of changes in heat shock protein expression and the morphology of cells after printing. Heat shock protein expression is elevated in response to cell heating and stress. Cui and colleagues found only minor changes in heat shock protein expression after the printing process compared to unprinted cells. They also discovered an interesting side-effect from the process: the creation of small, temporary membrane pores in the printed cells, which could be used for the targeted delivery of drugs and plasmid transfer. “The survival rate of printed mammalian cells is higher than 90 percent, which means the printed cells can repair these changes caused during the printing,” Cui says.

Cui’s talk, “Heat Shock Protein Expression and Cell Membrane Study of Printed Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells,” is at 9:00 am on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, in Room 202 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=968


Over the last 10 years, researchers and clinicians have begun to use microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which combine electronics technology with tiny mechanical devices like sensors and valves embedded in semiconductor chips–in the biomedical laboratory, to help automate diagnostic testing procedures. The next step, according to Shuvo Roy and other MEMS researchers, is moving MEMS into the body as the basis for implantable drug delivery devices, imaging systems, surgical tools, and more.

“MEMS technology promises to revolutionize medicine by enabling the development of miniature, smart, low-cost biomedical devices that can revolutionize biomedical investigation and clinical practice,” says Roy, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Francisco.

For example, Roy and his colleagues are now designing membranes that would allow dialysis to be miniaturized into implantable devices, freeing kidney failure patients from the cumbersome process, and have created wireless sensors for orthopedics that could monitor the need for spine surgery, bone healing, and implant performance.

Roy will discuss these developments and the future of bioMEMS technology in his talk, “MEMS for Implantable Medical Devices,” at 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, in Room 309 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=29


Spinal cord injuries are often a worst-case diagnosis for people who suffer accidents because they may mean permanent disability. Unlike a broken leg or pulled muscle, spinal cord injuries do not heal themselves over time.

One of the great hopes of modern medicine is that science, particularly the field of biomedical engineering, will someday help heal spinal cord injuries by guiding and stimulating the regenerating neurons to replace the lost connections. But regenerating neurons is not enough. The neurons must also get wired up correctly. They may not be able to do this on their own, however, because the scar tissue formed where the spinal injury occurs may be thick and impossible for neurons to grow across.

Now Thomas P Beebe, Jr. and his colleagues at the University of Delaware have developed a technology for patterning molecules on a surface in a way that can help guide the growth of new neurons. Naturally developing neurons use such patterns much like cars use GPS or global positioning systems to help guide them in the right direction as they grow. Beebe and his colleagues have made their patterned surfaces on glass and polymer surfaces, and they can watch neurons grow on these slides under the microscope. Right now, they are trying to find the optimal conditions that will help the neurons grow across the slide.

“Understanding what causes the neurons to grow fast, to turn around and grow the other way, or not to grow at all, is the first step in the eventual design of a new biotechnology aimed at spinal cord injuries,” said Beebe. “This is promising, but we are years away from helping people to walk again.”

The idea is to use this basic neuronal technology to develop a healing scaffold-a device made of pliable mesh, porous gels, or some other implantable material that can be used to regenerate spinal cords. Application of this technology may also someday help in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases in the brain and spinal cord. This technology, however, is not tested in the clinic, and it would have to prove to be safe and effective in clinical trials before becoming widely available.

Beebe’s talk, “Patterned Protein Gradients of Extracellular Matrix Protein Affect Cell Attachment and Axonal Outgrowth” will be at 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday October 21, 2008, in Room 202 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=1147


Injuries to the peripheral nerves-those linking the central nervous system to the arms and legs of the body-lead to a loss of sensation and function in 1 in 1000 people. Unlike the nerves of the central nervous system, peripheral nerves can be repaired and regenerated, but this process is often incomplete and ineffective.

To improve the odds, researchers have developed so-called nerve guidance conduits, which are essentially cylindrical tubes surgically implanted between two parts of an injured nerve, providing a guide through which new nerves can grow. But that design is too simple, argues cell biologist John Haycock, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England, who has built a better NGC. Haycock’s model consists of a scaffold made of thousands of aligned polymer microfibers, each just 5 to 10 millionths of a meter in diameter and 10 to 80 millimeters long. Microchannels created by the fibers provide an intricate scaffold for introducing nerve cells. Tests in the laboratory in which nerve cells were seeded onto the new NGC microfibres show a high degree of cell viability and alignment, which is crucial for the accurate regrowth of nerve fibers.

Haycock’s talk, “Use of Aligned Polymer Microfibres for Peripheral Nerve Repair,” is at 4:40 pm on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, in Room 202 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=891


Despite the fact that proton therapy has been around for years, it is still a relatively uncommon way to treat cancer. Currently there are only five operating proton therapy clinics in the United States — one each in Boston, MA; Loma Linda, CA; Bloomington, IN; Houston, TX; and Jacksonville, FL. To date, fewer than 20,000Americans have been treated with protons (particles found in the nuclei of atoms) in these five facilities. Far more are treated every year with other techniques, such as x-ray radiation.

Where proton therapy is uncommon, however, it is also uncommonly good. Protons give the most conformal dose, meaning that the beam can be carefully shaped to match the outlines of the tumor, minimizing the risk to the surrounding healthy tissue. Still, for years proton therapy has been primarily reserved for treating some of the most complicated cancers, such as those in the head or neck, because it is extremely reliable at removing hard-to-reach tumors growing on highly sensitive tissues like the brain or spine.

Now proton therapy is entering a new phase, says Jay Flanz of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University. At the conference, he will discuss how the type of cancers that are being treated with proton therapy has expanded as the underlying technology has improved. He will also discuss a looming increase in the number of therapy centers. There are as many facilities under construction today as there are currently operating, he says. Part of the reason for this increase is that proton therapy centers require large facilities equipped with particle accelerators. These facilities may cost $100 million or more to build. But where once this equipment had to be fabricated piece-by-piece, there are now commercial companies that can produce brand-new facilities from the ground up.

Flanz’s talk, “Proton Cancer Therapy” is at 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday October 21, 2008, in Room 312 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=243


Hepatitis C affects around 150 million people worldwide and is a major cause of chronic liver disease. Current treatment involves the anti-viral drugs interferon and ribavirin, both of which have serious side effects. As part of ongoing research to combat the hepatitis C virus, researchers are studying how the virus’ replication machinery attaches to cell membranes.

Membrane attachment is a necessary step in the replication of the hepatitis C virus. If doctors can prevent the virus from latching onto membranes inside the host cell, they may be able to control the disease. Curt Frank and Jeffrey Glenn of Stanford University and their colleagues have identified a helical portion of one viral protein, called NS5A, which seems to be one of the virus’ membrane “adhesives.” To understand how this protein works, the scientists exposed the protein to a range of artificial membranes placed on a quartz crystal microbalance. This dime-sized device, which can measure a mass increase of as little as 18 nanograms, recorded how much, if any, of the protein attached to the different membrane surfaces. The team discovered that the protein targets a particular combination of lipid and proteins in cell membranes. With further research, they hope to better pinpoint where the virus latches on, so that drugs might be developed to interfere with the process.

Please note that this presentation Frank’s talk, “Interaction of AH Amphipathic Peptide with Lipid Bilayers and Application to the Understanding of Hepatitis C Viral Infection via QCM-D Measurements” was part of an honorary session devoted to surface scientist Bengt Kasemo, who has been instrumental in developing the QCM technique. It was at 2:40 p.m. on Monday October 20, 2008, in Room 202 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=92


Life, on the microscopic level, is crowded and bustling. Tissues are made of cells glommed together that are covered with molecules. The molecules are constantly interacting with other molecules, and how they interact can mean the difference between good health and disease or life and death.

Some of the greatest insights biologists have come from teasing apart the tiny interactions that underlie it all. Now Gil Lee and colleagues at University College in Dublin, Ireland have developed a new way to tweeze apart interacting cells and molecules using magnetic forces. This technology, which relies on attaching microscopic magnetic particles, allows them to measure exactly how strongly the interactions are between biological molecules. They can do this sensitively enough to be able to measure the “bond strength” with which two individual molecules are held together. Bond strength is one of the most important features of molecular interactions because it determines how strongly or weakly molecules in the human body interact-or if they interact at all.

Recently Lee and his colleagues looked at one of the classic pairs of interacting molecules, the protein immunoglobin G, which plays a critical role in the immune system by recognizing pieces of foreign pathogens. Interestingly they saw two types of bonds. One was strong while the other much weaker. They are now expanding this work to look at whole cells and developing the technology as a way to screen particles.

“Magnetic Tweezers Measurement of the Bond Lifetime-Force Behavior of the IgG-Protein A Specific Molecular Interaction” will be at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday October 22, 2008, in Room 202 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=1373


Even very small numbers of deadly infectious agents or allergenic pollen molecules can cause big problems for humans. But detecting such trace amounts is difficult to do fast enough to do any good. Current techniques — for example, air sampling on filters or slides until enough molecules for a detectible signal or preparing specially tagged molecules for lab experiments — are more suitable for general research than alerting people to an imminent threat.

Andrea Armani of the University of Southern California has adapted a clever optical microcavity resonance technique for rapidly detecting even individual unlabelled target molecules. The central element is a microtoroid resonator — a ring of glass about 3 microns thick with a diameter of 100 microns (about the diameter of a human hair). The resonator is created using photolithography techniques developed for the semiconductor industry, but then Armani coats it with a protein that binds only to the target molecule. Finally, a tapered optical fiber is mated tangentially to the ring, enabling tunable laser light to be introduced into the ring so the waves match precisely with each circuit. Should even a single target molecule bind on the outside of the resonator, it will absorb a small amount of light from the “evanescent” field that extends a fraction of a micron beyond the glass ring, causing a change in resonance. Because the light continues to circulate through the ring, even the slight change due to a single molecule is strongly reinforced and can be detected.

Armani will report her successful detection of two Timothy grass pollen proteins, which are major human allergens. Her future efforts aim to adapt this technique to enable the rapid, remote detection of a wide variety of single molecules in the environment and in vitro.

Armani’s talk, ” Biophotonics: Resonant Detection of Single Molecules” is at 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2008, in Room 202 of the Hynes Convention Center. Abstract: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=94


The AVS 55th International Symposium & Exhibition lasts from October 19-24 in Boston, Massachusetts. All meeting information, including directions to the Hynes Convention Center is at: www2.avs/symposium/.


Searchable meeting program: avssymposium/Overview.asp

Main meeting page: www2.avs/symposium/AVS55/pages/info.html


The proliferation of tiny electronic and other gadgets sometimes overwhelms meeting attendees. Consequently there will be an “ask-the-experts” booth in the exhibit area. So save up your questions (Exhibit Hall Booth 607).



This year’s plenary talk was delivered by Jackie Ying, the Executive Director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore. Ying’s laboratory has been responsible for the development of several novel approaches that create nanocomposites, nanoporous materials and nanodevices with unique size-dependent characteristics. Her talk, “Nanostructure Processing of Advanced Catalysts and Biomaterials” was at noon on Monday, October 20, 2008 in Ballroom B of the Hynes Convention Center. For full details, see: www2.avs/symposium/AVS55/pages/sessions_lect.html


Fert, of UniversitГ© Paris-Sud and UnitГ© Mixte de Physique CNRS/THALES in Orsay, France, won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics with Peter GrГјnberg for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance. In Boston, Fert will describe the potential of carbon nanotubes, graphene and other molecules for spintronics-a developing field that seeks to achieve new forms of data storage by exploiting electron spin along with charge. Fert’s talk “Spin Transport between Spin-Polarized Sources and Drains: Advantage of Carbon Nanotubes on Semiconductors” will be at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 in Room 206 of the Hynes Convention Center. For full details, see: avssymposium/paper.asp?abstractID=38.


A meeting within a meeting, the Industrial Physics Forum (IPF, aip/ipf) is a multifaceted science meeting that presents industrial, academic, and governmental views on significant issues in physics and related fields. Held in conjunction with the AVS meeting this year, the 2008 Industrial Physics Forum has a research theme of Frontiers in Imaging, from Cosmos to Nano. Sessions include:
BIO IMAGING: Single molecules, viruses, cells, and new views of the retina. See: avssymposium/Session.asp?sessionID=140.

IMAGING OF MATERIALS WITH SUBATOMIC RESOLUTION: Vibrational, nanoplasmonic, and force microscopy. See: avssymposium/Session.asp?sessionID=141.

MARINE/TERRESTRIAL IMAGING: Coral Fluorescence Imaging, Deep-Sea Bioluminescence, LIDAR in the Coastal Environment, Streak-Tube Imaging and Virtual Periscope: See: avssymposium/Session.asp?sessionID=142.


AVS promotes communication, dissemination of knowledge, recommended practices, research, and education in a broad range of technologically relevant topics. One way that it does this is by offering short courses in areas such as:
Vacuum processing design, operation, and maintenance;

Characterization of films, surfaces, particles, and interfaces; and

Materials processing, modification.

In Boston, AVS will offer short courses on everything from engineering solar cells to the latest technologies for analyzing biological molecules. To access the complete short course schedule, see: avs/education.schedule.aspx#national_schedule.



AVS is a nonprofit organization that promotes communication, education, networking, recommended practices, research, and the dissemination of knowledge on an international scale, in the application of vacuum and other controlled environments to understand and develop interfaces, new materials, processes, and devices through the interaction of science and technology.


The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is a not-for-profit organization chartered in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare. It is the mission of the Institute to serve physics, astronomy, and related fields of science and technology by serving its ten Member Societies and their associates, individual scientists, educators, R&D leaders, and the general public with programs, services and publications.

Source: Jason Bardi

American Institute of Physics

Breakthrough Could Lead To Revolutionary Advances In The Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

Scientists from UniversitГ© Laval’s Faculty of Medicine have succeeded in producing neurons in vitro using stem cells extracted from adult human skin. This is the first time such an advanced state of nerve cell differentiation has been achieved from human skin, according to lead researcher Professor FranГ§ois Berthod. This breakthrough could eventually lead to revolutionary advances in the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. Berthod and his team described the method used to produce these neurons in a recent issue of the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

The researchers used skin obtained from plastic surgery procedures. They subjected these skin samples to various treatments in order to extract neuron precursor cells, which they then proceeded to cultivate in vitro. Skin itself does not contain neurons, which are hosted in the spinal cord, but contains only their extensions, called “axons.” The researchers’ challenge was thus to produce neurons from undifferentiated cells rather than multiply neurons from nerve cells.

Tests conducted by the researchers demonstrated that stem cells from the skin can proliferate and differentiate in vitro when placed in the appropriate environment. They progressively took on the oblong shape typical of neurons. At the biochemical level, researchers discovered that in the days following the start of the experiment, the cells began producing markers and molecules associated with the transmission of nerve impulse between neurons. “This suggests the beginning of synapse formation between neurons,” points out Professor Berthod.

In the short term, this breakthrough might have an impact in the field of neuroscience research. “Producing neurons from skin cells could solve the problem of human neural cell availability for research,” explains Berthod. “Since neurons do not multiply, researchers now have to rely on laboratory animal neurons to perform their experiments.”

In the longer term, the ability to produce neurons from skin cells opens the door to revolutionary therapeutic applications. “We could take a patient’s skin cells and use them to produce perfectly compatible neurons, thus eliminating the risk of rejection. We could then transplant these nerve cells in the diseased areas of the brain,” explains Berthod. “This type of procedure seems particularly interesting for diseases such as Parkinson’s, but it’s all theoretical for now. Before we can think of doing such things, we’ll have to improve nerve cell differentiation and prove that they can transmit nerve impulses,” concludes the researcher.



François Berthod
Laboratoire d’organogГ©nГЁse expГ©rimentale (LOEX)
Faculty of Medicine
UniversitГ© Laval

Contact: Jean-François Huppé

UniversitГ© Laval

A New Biological Sensor Detects And Analyses DNA Sequences

The Universidad PolitГ©cnica de Madrid’s Artificial Intelligence Group (LIA), based at the Facultad de InformГЎtica, has created a new DNA-based biological sensor that has potential applications in the field of genetic diagnostics. The basic sensor design was presented at the 2010 Conference on Unconventional Computation.

The LIA group has submitted a patent application for the design of this logical DNA sensor. These sensors are able to represent logical implications (or IF-THEN rules), like, for example, IF symptom 1 and symptom 2 are present, THEN the disease is A, or IF the disease is B, THEN symptoms 2 and 3 must be present. The sensors are able to use these logical rules to autonomously run logical inference processes on the genetic input signals and reach accurate diagnoses.

Using these intelligent DNA sensors as basic building blocks, the aim is to develop in vitro systems capable of autonomously detecting a set of input symptoms and output a diagnosis or release the right drug.

These biological sensors (built with DNA to process DNA) are considered bionanotechnological devices and are part of a discipline called DNA computing or biomolecular computing. This discipline aims to build and program devices manufactured with biomolecules, such as, for example, DNA strands to process information likewise encoded in other biomolecules.

In short, there is a need to develop and manufacture biological sensors capable of precisely detecting complex combinations of genetic signals and autonomously issuing the respective diagnoses. The bionanotechnological devices developed by the UPM’s LIA group at the Facultad de InformГЎtica are a response to this need.

Sources: Facultad de InformГЎtica de la Universidad PolitГ©cnica de Madrid, AlphaGalileo Foundation.

Alba Therapeutics Announces The Presentation Of Results Of A Phase IIa Clinical Trial For Larazotide Acetate For The Treatment Of Celiac Disease

Alba Therapeutics Corporation
announced that data from its Phase IIa clinical trial were presented
in the Clinical Advances in Celiac Disease session at the Digestive Disease
Week (DDW) meeting in San Diego, California. Results of the randomized,
double- blind, placebo controlled study of larazotide acetate for the
prevention of celiac disease reactivation by gluten challenge in celiac
subjects in remission(1) were presented by Daniel Leffler, MD from Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center at the DDW.

Celiac disease affects approximately 1% of individuals in the United
States and Europe or approximately 6.5 million individuals. The only
accepted therapy for the disease is a strict gluten-free diet; however, the
response to therapy is poor or incomplete in up to 30% of patients. Dietary
non-adherence is the chief cause of persistent or recurrent symptoms(2).
Over time, 30-50% of individuals are unable to maintain a strict
gluten-free diet. Additionally, a gluten-free diet fails to induce clinical
or histological improvement in 7-30% of celiac patients and such a lack of
response should trigger a systematic evaluation(3). These facts suggest
that there is a need for therapeutic modalities beyond dietary

Alba’s study, the first Phase IIa trial in celiac disease and the first
to assess dosing requirements for larazotide acetate, was designed to
evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of multiple doses of
larazotide acetate in celiac disease subjects during a 2 week gluten
challenge. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial
enrolled 86 patients who had a confirmed biopsy diagnosis for celiac
disease and were in compliance with a gluten-free diet for at least six
months prior to enrollment as demonstrated by a negative serology test of
anti-transglutaminase (tTG). Patients were randomized into seven
drug-treated and placebo groups and challenged three times a day with
gluten or gluten placebo during a 14 day period. Four doses of the oral
formulation of larazotide acetate, all less than 10 mg, were given prior to
each gluten challenge. Study endpoints included intestinal permeability
(IP), measured as lactulose-mannitol ratio (LAMA), as well as patient signs
and symptoms and outcomes, measured by the Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating
Scale (GSRS; validated in several gastrointestinal diseases) and the
Psychological General Well-Being Index (PGWBI).

Clinical Findings:

– In the primary study outcome, the prevention of increase in LAMA ratio
from Day 0 to Day 14, the treatment groups showed a dose dependent
protection from increase in intestinal permeability as measured by LAMA
ratio versus placebo, however the difference was not statistically

– In the highest dose active treatment groups of 4 and 8 mg, the LAMA
ratio did not increase after gluten exposure when compared with placebo

– Post-hoc analysis of change in LAMA ratio from Day 7 to Day 21 showed
dose dependent prevention of increase in LAMA across the 4 and 8 mg
treatment groups

– Changes in PGWBI scores and anti-tTG titers were not significant over
the time course of this study

– An unexpected enrollment effect resulted in a fall in intestinal
permeability from Day 0 to Day 7 across all groups suggesting the need
for a run-in period

– Larazotide acetate conferred protection from gastrointestinal symptoms
as measured by the GSRS as well as from expected signs and symptoms of
gluten toxicity

– Follow-up studies of longer duration are currently ongoing


– There was no difference in rate of adverse events between Placebo and
Active Drug Groups (46% vs. 55%)

– No Serious Adverse Events (SAEs) were reported

– Headache was the most common AE (reported by 17/86 subjects), with no
differences among the active drug group and the placebo group

– Plasma levels of larazotide acetate were below the limits of
quantification (0.5 ng/ml) in all groups at days 0, 7 and 14

“Although the primary study outcome was not statistically significant,
a great deal was learned about the potential effects of larazotide acetate
and the secondary outcome data is very positive. Further, important new
information was gained about the best way to run a celiac disease clinical
trial. This trial marks the beginning of a new era in celiac therapeutics
where modalities beyond diet alone have the ability to improve the lives of
our patients,” stated Daniel Leffler, MD a gastroenterologist from Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“We are very encouraged by the clear trend in the reduction of
intestinal permeability and the signs and symptoms of gluten exposure in
patients with celiac disease. We have applied the knowledge gained in this
Phase IIa clinical trial to a larger Phase IIb gluten challenge study which
is currently ongoing. In addition, we have recently initiated a clinical
trial in 106 active celiac disease patients. Alba is committed to
developing and studying new treatment options for patients with celiac
disease,” stated Dr. Francisco Leon, Head of Clinical Research and
Development at Alba. For more information about Alba’s clinical trials,
please visit the clinicaltrials web site and search for Alba

About Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a lifelong T-cell mediated auto-immune disorder,
which occurs in individuals who are genetically susceptible and is
characterized by small intestinal inflammation, injury and intolerance to
gluten. CD is a growing public health concern, affecting approximately 3
million people in the United States and over 6.5 million people worldwide.
People with CD cannot tolerate gluten proteins and have an inflammatory
response to the gluten in wheat, barley and rye. This results in varying
symptoms such as fatigue, skin rash, anemia, fertility issues, joint pain,
weight loss, pale sores inside the mouth, tooth discoloration or loss of
enamel, depression, chronic diarrhea or constipation, gas and abdominal
pain. The immunology and nutritional abnormalities in celiac disease can
potentially result in long-term complications such as osteoporosis,
refractory sprue, small intestinal cancer, and lymphoma. The only current
treatment for CD is complete elimination of gluten from the diet, which
results in remission for most patients, but can be very difficult to
implement in practice. “However, the response to the gluten-free diet is
poor in up to 30% of patients and dietary nonadherence is the chief cause
of persistent or recurrent symptoms.”(3)

About “Larazotide Acetate”

Larazotide acetate is an experimental medicine and an inhibitor of
barrier dysfunction that has been shown to block abnormally increased
intestinal permeability and the genesis of some autoimmune diseases, either
as a result of reduction of antigen presentation to the body’s immune
system, or through inhibitory, direct effects on gastrointestinal
associated lymphoid tissue. Larazotide acetate is a non-absorbed peptide
which improves mucosal barrier function by inhibiting cytoskeletal
reorganization and tight junction disassembly. Larazotide acetate is orally
formulated, has been granted “Fast Track” designation by the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration for the treatment of celiac disease, and is also being
evaluated for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease. Results of the Company’s
first study in celiac patients are available online at:

About Alba

Alba Therapeutics Corporation is a privately held, clinical-stage
biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and
commercialization of therapies to treat autoimmune and inflammatory
diseases and is located in Baltimore, Maryland. Alba’s technology platform
is based upon a key pathway that regulates the assembly and disassembly of
tight junctions in cell barriers throughout the body. As a result of its
unique technology platform, Alba is a leader in mucosal biology and has
developed a pipeline of innovative therapeutic candidates that has the
potential to modify the course of disease and significantly improve upon
existing treatments for a wide range of diseases such as Celiac disease,
Crohn’s disease, and Asthma/COPD or acute lung injury.


(1) A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Study of Larazotide
Acetate (AT-1001) for the Prevention of Celiac Disease Reactivation by
Gluten Challenge in Celiac Subjects in Remission, Leffler, Daniel A.,
Kelly, Ciaran, Paterson, Blake, Abdullah, Hani, Colatrella, Anthony,
Murray, Joseph A., presented at DDW, May 20, 2008.

(2) Green, P, and Cellier, C, Review Article, Medical Progress, Celiac
Disease, N ENGL J MED 2007;357:1731-43

(3) Green, P, and Cellier, C, Review Article, Medical Progress, Celiac
Disease, N ENGL J MED 2007;357:1731-43

Alba Therapeutics Corporation

Children With Cancer Face Unique Nutritional Needs

Proper nutrition is important for all children, but especially for those undergoing treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Some treatments for cancer and other pediatric catastrophic diseases can affect appetite by causing nausea, unusual allergies, changes to the sense of taste and mouth sores.

Nutritional care that helps patients achieve normal growth and weight gain, continue normal activities and prevent problems is central to recovery. St. Jude dietitians routinely consult with other members of the medical team to determine the best course of nutritional therapy for patients receiving treatment.

“At St. Jude, we try to look at the whole picture and evaluate what’s going to work best for the patients,” said Ginger Carney, a registered dietician and director of Clinical Nutrition at St. Jude. “The philosophy is that our patients should have what they need and what they want because it’s good for a patient to eat, and it’s good for the family to see the child eat.”

Thanks to a recent renovation of its cafeteria, St. Jude has enhanced its ability to cater to children who may have difficulties finding something that sparks their appetites. The Kay Kafe, named for a donation from Sterling Jewelers, the parent company of Kay Jewelers, boosts the hospital’s ability to provide variety and efficiency in meal preparations and delivery. Meal offerings include standard comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes; common favorites like pizza and hamburgers; a gelato station to sooth sore throats; and Indian, Mexican, Chinese and Italian dishes.

Dietitians advise that being flexible is key to getting children to eat. “The nutrition picture can change often and rapidly,” Carney said. “For example, cancer patients tend to eat poorly during treatment cycles but well between cycles. It’s important to encourage these children to eat extra when they feel well.” If a child is too sick to eat regular foods, dietitians will recommend the appropriate tube feeding, or even suggest optimal nutritional fluids to be provided intravenously.

Clinical Nutrition staff also counsels parents to remind children when it’s time to eat, but not to push them. “Try to get the foods they ask for. One rule of thumb, though: If you can’t get the requested food within about an hour, don’t spend time trying,” Carney said. “Usually after this period, children won’t want it any longer. It will soon be time for the next meal or snack, so you’ll have another chance to see if they’ll eat.”

Dietitians suggest other tips to assist cancer patients with poor appetites to eat adequately:
Eat six times a day three meals and three snacks.

Try to finish what you start eating.

“Power pack” the food so that each bite counts by adding extra margarine, cheese, gravy, or sauce to foods, if needed, to combat weight loss. Offer the high-fat version of a food like fried chicken instead of baked.

Follow the guidelines of Dietary Guidelines for Americans by choosing a variety of foods from all food groups.

Often, nutritional supplements can be helpful when food is refused. These are usually beverages, and they come in a variety of flavors. Supplements are nutrient-dense, providing a lot of nutrients in a small amount. Because of this, they can be used as a meal replacement.

“It’s also good for parents to remember that eating is about more than just nutrition,” Carney said. “It’s a bonding interaction that is important to the family, and parents can try to continue the family meal habits that were present prior to the illness. For example, continue to have Sunday dinner if that has been a family tradition. Set a place at the table and have the child sit with the family for meals, even though he or she may eat something different or decide not to eat at that time.”

For more topics related to nutrition:

The St. Jude Clinical Nutrition staff includes certified pediatric specialists, certified nutrition support specialists and international board-certified lactation consultants. These specialty dietitians have had additional intensive training in pediatric nutrition, nutrition support (alternative feedings by tube or vein), and lactation to support and protect breastfeeding in the sick infant.

Whitney Orth is a registered dietitian, licensed dietitian/nutritionist and a certified nutrition support dietitian at St. Jude. Orth can offer tips on enticing children to try new foods; promoting healthy snacking and packing healthy school lunches for kids.

Kay Hall is a registered dietitian, licensed dietitian/nutritionist and a certified lactation consultant at St. Jude. Hall is an expert in preparing low-bacteria diets for children with suppressed immune systems and ways to stimulate children’s appetites when they are sick.

Kendra Cox is coordinator of the Living Well Program at St. Jude. Cox helps employees create a work setting that promotes wellness and encourages healthy lifestyles. She is well versed in making smart meal and snacking choices in the corporate environment.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. No family ever pays for treatments not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization

Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

British Medical Association Cymru Wales Backs Private Members Bill To Regulate Suntan Salons

Welsh Secretary of the BMA, Dr Richard Lewis said: “We are delighted that Julie Morgan MP has chosen to use her Private Members Bill to close a loophole in law to protect the public – particularly young people – from the dangers of sunbeds and from over-exposure to intense UV radiation.

“This is something we have campaigned heavily on this year in Wales – calling for tighter regulation of the commercial sunbed industry; particularly for a ban on coin-operated / unsupervised salons and a ban on the use by under 18s.

“There are significant health risks associated with the use of sunbeds. The link between exposure to UV radiation and skin cancer is now indisputable – shown by the recent decision by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to raise the sunbed classification to “carcinogenic to humans” – the highest risk category.

“For us the essential point is that there is no such thing as a safe tan (unless it comes out of a bottle). The damage to your skin remains long after a tan has faded.

“There are no formal guidelines about standards of private sector tanning salons, the ones which do exist are only advisory and providers are free to ignore them. Anyone can decide to set up a tanning salon, and they need no training or qualifications.

“We really need to educate people about the dangers of sunbeds and counter the myths about tanning. A suntan is not a sign of good health; a tan, even when there is no burning, always means that the skin has been damaged, a suntan is not nature’s own sunscreen – it does not protect you from ultra-violet radiation.

“It’s ironic, people use sunbeds because they think they’ll look better and yet they will probably end up looking old prematurely and possibly getting skin cancer.
“There is no such thing as a safe tan (unless it comes out of a bottle). When a tan fades, the damage to your skin remains. We want to see tighter regulation of the sunbed industry and a ban on coin-operated, unsupervised salons.

“In 2009, there is no excuse for such lax regulation. When we gave evidence to the National Assembly for Wale’s Health Committee inquiry a few months ago that is exactly what we said – we are delighted that the Committee took our recommendations forward, and now we are even more delighted that Julie Morgan MP’s Private Members Bill could close this gap in public protection on a UK level for good. We will do everything we can to support her. “

The British Medical Association Cymru Wales

ACUSON P10 Crosses Healthcare Boundaries – Handheld Pocket Ultrasound Carries Out Essential Obstetric Scanning In Tanzania

A Siemens ACUSON P10 ultrasound scanner has been used at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania to perform obstetric scanning during a healthcare link project. Taken by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the system was trialled by the medical team to contribute to the care of expectant mothers and unborn babies at the centre and in rural health clinics.

The ACUSON P10 is an innovative pocket ultrasound device that weighs just 700 grammes. Its highly portable design and battery capacity make it ideal for diagnostics in remote locations, providing instant images to enable a fast and accurate diagnosis. The obstetric team in Tanzania was able to transport the system between wards, the emergency admission room and the ante natal clinic, as well as further afield rural Hai District outreach clinics.

Staff at KCMC were taught by UK Sonographers to assess the gestational age of the foetus with the P10 and carry out urgent scans in high risk conditions. It was used in emergency work to confirm foetal heart beat and placental position before Caesarean section.

Judith Cobb, Ultrasound Lead Professional at Northumbria Healthcare Trust, travelled to Tanzania in February as part of the Northumbria healthcare team. She states, “The ACUSON P10 was a fantastic diagnostic tool for the obstetric team in Tanzania to use. As it does not rely on a power supply we were still able to use the system in remote areas where a constant electricity supply is not always available, allowing us to reach a wider range of patients. The instant power-up feature proved vital in emergency situations enabling staff to quickly make important clinical decisions.”

“The ACUSON P10 is an innovative system that provides healthcare benefits beyond the traditional hospital boundaries,” said Declan Dunphy, Performance Products Manager at Siemens Healthcare. “A versatile ultrasound such as this can enhance a physical examination, providing visual information that enables patients to receive the most appropriate care. Its portability offers great versatility inside the hospital environment and beyond into remote communities.”

The Northumbria Healthcare Trust has well established links with the KCMC and has assisted the medical centre over several years providing equipment and implementing clinical training. It is hoping to build on this success by submitting a research proposal to KCMC with the hope of setting up a new outreach scan service. Based in the Hai District, the service would provide the opportunity for all women to have an accurate dating scan to allow improved management of high risk pregnancies with safer and more timely intervention.

The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the healthcare industry. The company is a renowned medical solutions provider with core competence and innovative strength in diagnostic and therapeutic technologies as well as in knowledge engineering, including information technology and system integration. With its laboratory diagnostics acquisitions, Siemens Healthcare is the first integrated healthcare company, bringing together imaging and lab diagnostics, therapy and healthcare information technology solutions, supplemented by consulting and support services. Siemens Healthcare delivers solutions across the entire continuum of care – from prevention and early detection, to diagnosis, therapy and care. Additionally, Siemens Healthcare is the global market leader in innovative hearing instruments. The company employs more than 49,000 people worldwide and operates in 130 countries. In the fiscal year 2007 (Sept. 30), Siemens Healthcare reported sales of €9.85 billion, orders of €10.27 billion, and group profit of €1.32 billion.

Siemens Healthcare Sector