Canadian Researchers Receive $2.9 Million To Protect Against Prion Disease Outbreaks, Develop Novel Therapies To Treat Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s

Collaborative research groups at nine different universities, involving 55 different investigators across Canada, are poised to make significant advances in the understanding of prion and prion-like diseases in humans and animals. These include the development of an oral vaccine to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer and elk populations and novel approaches to treat human neurodegenerative disorders like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, thanks to $2.9 million in funding announced by PrioNet Canada.

The goal of the funding, which supports 11 projects, is two-fold, explains Dr. Neil Cashman, Scientific Director of PrioNet Canada, one of Canada’s Network of Centres of Excellence. “By working with our partners, we aim to continue to protect Canada against classical prion diseases like chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE), and we’re also providing benefit to Canadians through the development of innovative therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.”

The researchers will use the funds to better understand the biology of prion disease, to develop strategies to manage prion disease outbreaks and minimize the impacts, and to apply learnings of prion diseases to the treatment of human neurodegenerative disorders.

Prion diseases are fatal, infectious and transmissible diseases of humans and animals associated with a ‘sponge-like’ degeneration of brain tissue. In animals, the most common prion diseases include BSE, scrapie in sheep and goats, and CWD in deer and elk. In 2003, Canada’s beef and related industries were faced with worldwide closing of trade after a domestic case of BSE was found in Alberta. Canada’s economic loss stemming from this event is estimated at more than $6 billion. Some examples of prion diseases in humans include fatal and sporadic familial insomnia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and its many varieties, and Kuru.

Some examples of the ground-breaking work supported by PrioNet’s recent funding include:

- Immunotherapies to treat ALS: Five PrioNet researchers at the University of British Columbia,University of Alberta and University of Toronto are focusing on a newly-recognized molecular mechanism of ALS, a misfolded protein called SOD-1. By identifying the parts of the protein that are exposed when it is misfolded in disease, researchers are able to design immunotherapies that can target those areas, interrupting the slow progression of paralysis and eventual death characterized by the disorder. Two animal models have already demonstrated responsiveness to the new immunotherapies and work is now underway to develop a therapy for humans. “We are hoping these discoveries could prove to be a magic bullet for ALS,” said Dr. Cashman, who serves as principal investigator for the multi-disciplinary research team.

- Oral vaccine to control chronic wasting disease in the wild: Prion diseases like chronic wasting disease are continuing to spread throughout the Canadian prairie’s wild deer and elk populations and 10 PrioNet researchers in Saskatoon and British Columbia are working on an oral vaccine to stop the spread. “The danger is that prion diseases are evolving and new strains are emerging,” noted Dr. Scott Napper, a Research Scientist with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatoon and principal investigator on the project. Dr. Napper’s group is focusing on an oral vaccine that can withstand extreme temperatures and will effectively attract elk and deer in the wild. Similar oral vaccines are already used to control rabies in Eastern Canada, where food packets containing the vaccine are widely distributed for consumption by fox and raccoon populations.

- Framework to minimize the impact of chronic wasting disease: Principal investigator Dr. Ellen Goddard from the University of Alberta along with nine co-investigators are working to identify the risk factors associated with chronic wasting disease in wild deer and elk populations, how they can be managed and what public policy recommendations should be put in place to try and mitigate the effects. The primary goal is to monitor the many unknowns that remain about the impact of CWD in the wild, such as the potential risk to hunters who consume infected animals and the potential interface between wild and domestic animals. “The risk management framework around BSE showed that even though countries were aware of the disease in their cattle, they completely underestimated the economic impact and the public response,” notes Dr. Goddard. “We’re doing the work ahead of the game while CWD is still manageable and while effective policies can be put into place to control it, to help anticipate and prevent the impacts.”

- Understanding ‘good versus bad’ prions in order to develop drugs: The first step to designing drugs to treat prion and prion-like diseases is to understand how prion proteins change shape when they become “misfolded” in disease. Dr. Christoph Borchers, a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Director of the University of Victoria-Genome BC Proteomics Centre is collaborating with researchers from the University of Alberta and University of Western Ontario to characterize the changes that occur to the three-dimensional structure of prion fibrils (small, nerve-like fibres) as well as the molecular mechanisms that lead to those changes. Using a combination of protein chemistry and mass spectrometry, they are working to explain what occurs when a ‘good’ prion protein changes to a ‘bad’ one during disease development. The information is crucial to designing drugs that can interfere with those changes, effectively curbing the spread of prion and prion-like diseases.

Source:

PrioNet Canada

California Dental Hygienists Offer Health Tips For Weekend Warriors & Fitness Buffs

Weekend warriors
and other fitness buffs take note: your need to pay as much attention to
your oral health as your cardio and muscle-building regimens.

“People today are concerned about their total health, weight issues and
being healthy, yet they forget to protect their teeth and the health of
their mouth,” said Jean Honny, president of the California Dental
Hygienists’ Association (CDHA). “Exercise and diet indeed affect total
health.”

According to CDHA, many health-conscious Californians are unaware of
the oral health dangers from the sports drinks, gels and special diets they
consume during races and various sporting activities.

“Dental hygienists have received substantial education in nutrition,”
Honny said. “Every day we see the adverse effects of carbohydrates and
sugars in a person’s diet that can increase their risk of dental decay.”

Distance runners, cyclists, tri-athletes and other serious athletes
often experience “cotton mouth,” which reduces saliva from increased air
intake. This can lead to dental decay since saliva acts as a protective
coating for our teeth against the acid in our mouths.

This problem is compounded when these athletes consume high amounts of
carbohydrates; the breakdown of carbohydrates leads to higher acidity in
the mouth. Additionally, many drinks and sports gels athletes consume
during races are very high in sugar, which also contributes to dental
decay.

To combat these problems, CDHA offers the following tips:

– Use xylitol-containing products such as chewing gum between
workouts and meals to generate re-mineralization of teeth

– There are some sports drinks companies starting to use xylitol
as a sweetener, use them if you can find them

— Carry a bottle of water or cup of ice while racing or working
out to rinse the mouth after you consume a gel, drink, or bar.
This also helps relieve dry mouth

– Use an appropriate fluoride rinse and toothpaste that contains
fluoride

— Brushing teeth well for at least two minutes and flossing daily
are your best defense against dental decay

— Visit your dental hygienist at least once every six months

In addition these tips, even the most casual weekend warrior should
invest in a plastic mouth guard.

“It’s a small price to pay to protect your teeth,” said CDHA’s Honny,
who cited a National Sports Foundation estimate that more than five million
teeth are lost each year during sports activities. “In many cases, the
athlete could have prevented the injury simply by wearing a mouth guard.”

The California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) is the
authoritative voice of the state’s dental hygiene profession. While
registered dental hygienists have worked in the state for nearly a century,
CDHA was established 20 years ago when two regional associations merged to
form a unified professional group. CDHA represents thousands of dental
hygienists throughout the state and is dedicated to expanding opportunities
for the profession and access to care for all Californians. For more
information, visit cdha.

California Dental Hygienists’ Association
cdha

Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies In The United States Examined By Review

A new review outlines potential pharmaceutical, dietary, surgical, and other approaches to reducing the risk of breast cancer among women in the United States, and examines the evidence for specific recommendations.

The review says risk reduction strategies for women at average risk of breast cancer should focus primarily on lifestyle factors. Among the recommendations: aside from following general dietary recommendations for healthy eating, there is no clear evidence that specific dietary components can effectively reduce breast cancer risk; while all women should be advised to moderate alcohol use, women at increased risk of breast cancer should moderate alcohol intake or even avoid alcohol; women should maintain a healthy body weight, since gaining over 20 pounds during adulthood has been reported to result in an increased risk of breast cancer.

The authors say use of pharmacotherapy to reduce the risk should be individualized to each patient after a thorough discussion of risks and benefits as part of a shared decision-making process.

“While decreases in both breast cancer incidence and breast cancer mortality have been apparent in recent years, the societal and economic impact of this malignancy continues to be huge,” write the authors. “Although a constellation of breast cancer risk factors has been identified, many of these are not easily modified. Further, many women worry about the potential impact of a breast cancer diagnosis on themselves and their families. As a result, interest in strategies to prevent breast cancer remains strong.”

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Article: “Opportunities and Strategies for Breast Cancer Prevention Through Risk Reduction” Martin C. Mahoney, MD, PhD; Therese Bevers, MD; Eleni Linos,MD, MPH; Walter C. Willett,MD, DrPH, CA Cancer J Clin 2008;58:347-371 


Source: David Sampson

American Cancer Society

Bionovo Announces Publication Of Positive Phase 2 Trial Results For Menerba(TM)

Bionovo, Inc. (Nasdaq: BNVI) announced the online publication of a peer-reviewed article in the journal, Menopause, reporting Menerba(TM) (formerly MF101) is well tolerated, safe and effective for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) associated with menopause.

The Phase 2 clinical trial was designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of two doses of Menerba versus placebo. The trial was conducted under the direction of Dr. Deborah Grady, an international key opinion leader, from the University of California, San Francisco. The trial was a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study that enrolled 217 healthy postmenopausal women reporting severe hot flashes, and was conducted at 6 clinical sites in the U.S. Participants were randomized to drug or identical placebo for 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks of treatment, there was a statistically significant decrease in frequency of all hot flashes in the higher dose of Menerba (p=0.04). There was also a very clear dose response trend in multiple efficacy analyses. When compared to placebo, women in the Menerba high dose group were 2.3 times more likely to have at least a 50% reduction in hot flashes after 12 weeks of treatment (OR 2.3, p=0.03).

The study further elucidated that Menerba reduced the number of times women were awakened from sleep due to hot flashes, also known as “night awakenings” or “night sweats.” The median percent reduction in night time awakenings from hot flashes for women randomized to the higher dose of Menerba was 67%, and this reduction was statistically superior compared to placebo (p=0.05).

Menerba was extremely well tolerated with 98% of participants completing the trial and 91% taking at least 75% of assigned doses. The only statistically significant side effect was transient loose stools (12% on Menerba versus 3% on placebo; p=0.03).

Safety analyses showed no cases of endometrial hyperplasia or uterine cancer during the trial. There were no differences in incidents of vaginal bleeding between the placebo group and the two treatment groups of Menerba. Likewise, there was no increase in blood estradiol levels. This finding further supports that Menerba will not lead to an increased risk for breast or uterine cancers.

This Phase 2 trial of Menerba provided evidence that treatment with Menerba is effective for the treatment of hot flashes in postmenopausal women and the drug is very well tolerated without any significant side effects.

“I am very encouraged and pleased by the findings of this clinical trial,” said Deborah Grady, M.D., Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Science, Professor of Medicine and Director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Women’s Health Clinical Research Center. “The combination of a trend to better efficacy with the higher dose of Menerba and a very strong safety profile of a drug that was extremely well tolerated by menopausal women is exciting news. These early positive clinical results are encouraging for discovering a safer therapy for hot flashes.”

“Menerba is an estrogen receptor beta selective drug,” said Jan Ake Gustafsson, M.D., the discoverer of estrogen receptor beta, from Houston University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. “The results from Menerba’s first Phase 2 clinical trial support the role of estrogen receptor beta as a novel target for treating menopausal symptoms.”

“Large clinical trials, such as the HERS and the WHI, elucidated serious safety concerns associated with hormone therapy. These results have led to a dramatic drop in the use of estrogens,” said Isaac Cohen, chairman and CEO of Bionovo, Inc. “For this reason, it is important to develop safer alternatives for treating menopausal symptoms currently affecting 30 million women in the US. Our results indicate Menerba is effective and safe for the treatment of hot flashes and we are eager to move forward with the development of this drug. Clearly, Menerba has the potential to help millions and reach blockbuster sales soon after market launch.”

Bionovo, Inc.

Bionovo, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of safe and effective treatments for women’s health and cancer, markets with significant unmet needs and billions in potential annual revenue. The company applies its expertise in the biology of menopause and cancer to design new drugs derived from botanical sources which have novel mechanisms of action. Based on the results of early and mid-stage clinical trials, Bionovo believes they have discovered new classes of drug candidates within their rich pipeline with the potential to be leaders in their markets. Bionovo is headquartered in Emeryville, California and is traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol, “BNVI”. For more information about Bionovo and its programs, visit:bionovo.

Forward Looking Statements

This release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to the business of Bionovo, Inc. that can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “believes,” “expects,” or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including uncertainties relating to product development, efficacy and safety, regulatory actions or delays, the ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection, market acceptance, physician acceptance, third party reimbursement, future capital requirements, competition in general and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Certain of these risks and uncertainties are or will be described in greater detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available at sec. Bionovo, Inc. is under no obligation (and expressly disclaims any such obligation) to update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Bionovo, Inc.
bionovo

View drug information on Estradiol Transdermal System.

Cook Medical Launches Spectrum Glide To Combat Catheter Related Bloodstream Infections

Cook Medical announces the general availability in Europe of Cook Spectrum® Glide™ Minocycline/Rifampin Impregnated Catheters. Spectrum, created by Cook’s Critical Care strategic business unit, has been specifically designed to provide the best protection against catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs), which according to the Department of Health (DoH) cost the NHS upwards of ВЈ6,209 per infected patient in 2003 alone.

Catheters are currently either untreated or surface-treated with a combination of compounds which are intended to endow those catheters with some antiseptic qualities. Both technologies have been shown clinically to be less effective than Spectrum antimicrobial catheters, which are impregnated on both sides with a combination of rifampin and minocycline.

Spectrum catheters are impregnated with rifampin and minocycline on the external and internal surfaces to provide protection against catheter-related bloodstream infections, via broad-spectrum activity against gram positive and gram negative organisms. This protection against CRBSIs lasts for at least two weeks and clinical trials in the US have found no occurrence of antibiotic resistance.

Dr Duncan Wyncoll, Consultant Intensivist at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster London, comments: “The NHS as a whole is taking great strides to reduce hospital acquired infections by adopting a variety of measures, including the adoption of innovative technology. The Cook Spectrum catheter is one such example of this technology. The next step is to hone the techniques used to place the catheters in an effective manner. Reducing physician error in catheter placement will drive infection rates down still further.”

How Does Spectrum Work?

All catheter tube extensions are labelled with port name, gage size and flush volume. Cook Medical’s Spectrum is available as a double or triple lumen catheter. Lumens should be pre-flushed prior to use and the catheters’ hydrophilic coating activates upon insertion into the vessel. Spectrum incorporates either two or three separate, non-communicating vascular access lumens within a single catheter body. This design reduces the need for multiple venipunctures or multiple stopcock configurations with single lumen catheters which may increase the likelihood that any individual catheter may become infected. Exit ports of individual lumens are separated by an appropriate distance in proportion to the catheter’s French size – Spectrum comes in French sizes 4.0, 5.0 and 7.0.

Bruce Gingles, Global Vice President of Cook Medical’s Critical Care strategic business unit, says: “Healthcare-associated infections and catheter-related bloodstream infections receive ever more attention from the media, politicians, patients and physicians. The UK’s National Audit Office states that hospital-acquired infections can be reduced by around 15 per cent across the NHS through better management and control. We believe medical technology has a large part to play in this battle.

“We are working with an increasing number of surgeons and healthcare professionals within institutions who are successfully driving down infection rates through a heightened appreciation of the risks involved with incomplete infection control. Efforts to beat CRBSIs must come from a platform of prevention, not just cure. This is precisely why we’ve designed the Spectrum Glide catheter.”

About Cook Medical

Cook Medical was one of the first companies to introduce interventional devices in the United States. Today, the company participates in all global markets, integrating device design, biopharma, gene and cell therapy and biotechnology to enhance patient safety and improve clinical outcomes. Cook won the prestigious Medical Device Manufacturer from Medical Device and Diagnostic Magazine.

Cook Medical

An Important Gene Identified For A Healthy, Nutritious Plant

The research paper, published with colleagues from Colorado State University and the University of South Carolina, appeared in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“There’s a lot of attention today on global food shortages,” says Mary Lou Guerinot, the principal investigator on the study and one of the authors of the paper. “We’ve found a gene that is key for proper chloroplast function. This finding might some day help scientists develop plants that grow better and can serve as more nutritious food.”

During photosynthesis, chloroplasts are the subcellular compartment used by plant cells to convert light energy to sugars, fueling the plant. This process in the chloroplasts requires iron, and up to 90 percent of the iron in leaf cells is located in chloroplasts. In this study, Guerinot and her colleagues provide molecular evidence that FRO7, a gene in the FRO family, is involved in chloroplast iron acquisition and is required for efficient photosynthesis. The FRO family is a group of proteins that transfers electrons from ferric iron (Fe3+) to reduce it to another kind of iron (Fe2+). This same lab showed that this process (reduction of iron) was essential for plants to take up iron into the roots from the soil in a study published in 1999 in Nature.

“We have now shown that an analogous process is required for proper chloroplast function,” says Guerinot. “Moreover, without FRO7, plants sown in iron deficient soil died as young seedlings. Our findings are of particular interest because how iron gets into chloroplasts has not been well understood despite the significance of iron in chloroplasts.”

Guerinot explains that one-third of the soil worldwide is iron deficient, so it is important to understand how plants acquire iron, allocate iron to different parts of the plant and within the cell, and survive under iron limiting conditions. This is not only critical to improve plant growth and crop yields but also to improve human nutrition. According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional disorder in the world today and most people get their iron from eating plants.

“Enriching crops with mineral and vitamin nutrients will provide sustainable solutions to malnutrition,” she says.

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The work was funded by the National Science Foundation. The title of the paper is, “Chloroplast Fe(III) chelate reductase activity is essential for seedling viability under iron limiting conditions.” Co-authors on this paper include Dartmouth graduate student Jeeyon Jeong, with Erin Connolly and Loubna Kerkeb at the University of South Carolina, and Marinus Pilon and Chris Cohu at Colorado State University.

Source: Sue Knapp

Dartmouth College

Bacterial Toxin Closes Gate On Immune Response, Penn Researchers Discover

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have demonstrated that a bacterial toxin from the common bacterium Staphylococcus aureus shuts down the control mechanism of the tunnel, called an ion channel, in immune cell membranes. Shutting down ion channels has long been known to suppress the immune response, and the bacteria may use the toxin to neutralize host defenses against bacteria. The study is published in the February 14 issue of Nature.

Immune cells, like other cells, have ion channels in their membranes. When the voltage-sensing part of the channel detects an electrical change in the cell membrane, the channel gate opens, allowing small ions such as sodium, potassium, or calcium to flow across the cell membrane. The channels in immune cells called Kv1.3 channels allow only potassium ions to pass, and the activity of these channels is required for triggering an immune response.

“We have provided a key piece of evidence for the hypothesis that the negatively charged phosphate groups of membrane lipids around voltage sensors provide the critical electric balance for some of these positive charges in the sensors,” says Zhe Lu, MD, PhD, of the Department of Physiology at Penn. The research team, that included Yanping Xu, MD, PhD and Yajamana Ramu, PhD, showed that removal of phosphate head groups from some membrane lipids by the bacterial toxin called sphingomyelinase (SMase) C shuts down the Kv1.3 channel. Therefore if the positive charges are not properly balanced by negative charges, the electrical sensor cannot move to “open the gate” of the channel. And, if the channel fails to open, the immune response is derailed.

“Our study builds on the efforts of two senior colleagues in the Department,” says Lu. Twenty-five years ago, Professor Clay Armstrong (now emeritus) hypothesized that the positive charges in the electrical sensor must be balanced by negative charges for the sensor to function properly. And a few years later, Professor Carol Deutsch, among others, demonstrated the presence of potassium channels controlled by voltage in immune cells.

SMase C is made by, among other bacteria, S. aureus, a pathogenic bacterium that causes a range of infections from minor skin lesions to toxic shock. “This finding raises the intriguing possibility that the SMase C action against Kv1.3 helps S. aureus to neutralize host defenses,” state the authors in the paper.

The findings of this study suggest the possibility that identifying inhibitors of SMase C may be a way to combat S. aureus infections. One strain of S. aureus is the much-talked-about, MRSA, or methycillin-resistant S. aureus. Specific inhibitors of SMase C may expand the choice of therapies for treating MRSA and other resistant S. aureus infections.

This study was conducted in a common experimental system where frog eggs were engineered to have particular voltage-gated ion channels in their membranes. SMases used in the study were purified from bacteria engineered to produce the enzymes.

This new study follows a 2006 study by the same research team showing that an SMase from the brown recluse spider could activate voltage-gated ion channels. In 2007 the team discovered that SMases from lung-infecting bacteria inactivate ion channels that conduct chloride ions, which would in turn aggravate lung infection in some cystic fibrosis patients.

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The National Institute of General Medical Sciences provided funding for this research.

This release can be found at: pennhealth/news.

PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals – its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

Source: Karen Kreeger

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Benefits Of ICDs In Children: Largest Study To Date

More and more children with congenital heart disease are receiving implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) to maintain proper heart rhythm. ICDs were first introduced for adults in the 1980s, but little is known about how well they work in children, who account for less than 1 percent of recipients. A report in the April 29 Journal of the American College of Cardiology summarizes the largest pediatric experience to date. It finds the devices to be life-saving, but also suggests that they tend to deliver more inappropriate shocks to children than to adults, making it important to watch children with ICDs closely.

The researchers, led by Charles Berul, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Children’s Hospital Boston, analyzed data from 443 patients who received implants between 1992 and 2004 at one of four pediatric centers. The study included both pediatric heart patients and adults with congenital heart disease. The median age was 16 years (range, 0 to 54).

Among the 409 patients for whom shock data was available, 26 percent had received appropriate shocks from their ICD, averaging four per patient. However, 21 percent had received inappropriate shocks – an average of six per patient. When broken down by age, 24 percent of children under 18 had received inappropriate shocks, versus 14 percent of adult patients. While such shocks aren’t life-threatening, they are very unpleasant – “like being kicked in the chest,” says Berul.

One reason for the inappropriate shocks was that children often have spikes in heart rate that aren’t normally seen in adults. “Children are more active and get their heart rates up faster,” Berul says. “The devices sometimes have trouble differentiating normal increases in heart rate from abnormal rhythms.”

In addition, 14 percent of inappropriate shocks were due to failure of the ICD wires (leads). This was a particular problem in children, who live much longer with their ICDs than adults do, and whose leads can stretch due to activity and growth. Lead failure also requires periodic surgery to replace the wires.

Berul’s team is working with device manufacturers to change ICD programming to minimize unnecessary shocks in children and to provide more durable, longer-lasting leads. “Children are not an important market for device makers, but they are an important subgroup,” Berul says.

Overall, the study shows a benefit of ICDs, but suggests that physicians should give more attention to determining which children with congenital heart disease really need the devices, since not all are at risk for life-threatening arrhythmias. For example, patients who had experienced a prior cardiac event had a higher likelihood of appropriate shocks than those receiving the devices preventively (32 vs. 18 percent), improving the overall cost-benefit ratio.

Berul notes that the current study is by far the largest to date involving the newer generation of ICDs. It confirms the findings of earlier studies, which have looked at older-generation pacemakers and devices implanted only after children were resuscitated from cardiac arrest.

This study was funded in part by Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and St. Jude Medical.

Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children’s Hospital Boston today is the nation’s leading pediatric medical center, the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 397 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children’s houses the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 12 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children’s research community. For more information about the hospital visit: childrenshospital/newsroom.

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Source: Keri Stedman

Children’s Hospital Boston

ASTRO, Mama’s Kitchen Join To Promote Cancer Survivorship

As part of an initiative to give back to the cancer communities in the cities visited during its annual scientific meetings, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is partnering with Mama’s Kitchen of San Diego to raise awareness of cancer survivorship issues.

Mama’s Kitchen will work with ASTRO by participating in the Survivor Circle exhibit at ASTRO’s 52nd Annual Meeting, scheduled for October 31-November 4, 2010, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego. The Survivor Circle was created to recognize those living with a diagnosis of cancer. This year, it will focus on the programs offered by San Diego-area cancer organizations helping patients and their families cope with this disease. Within the Survivor Circle, there is a place for attendees to learn more about Mama’s Kitchen. Mama’s Kitchen received this opportunity, along with a $10,000 grant, through the Survivor Circle Grant Program. They were one of two groups chosen from many applications received this year.

“Mama’s Kitchen recognizes that those with cancer may be elderly, alone or extremely sick and are often not in a position to shop or cook for themselves,” Anthony Zietman, President of ASTRO said. “This magnificent group organizes armies of volunteers to buy, prepare, and deliver nutritious food to these desperately needy local people. It truly represents community care and volunteerism at its best.”

“Our ability to meet the nutritional needs of San Diegans affected by cancer is due to the strong community involvement in the form of both volunteer time and dollars contributed,” noted Alberto CortГ©s, Executive Director of Mama’s Kitchen. “ASTRO’s grant to Mama’s Kitchen makes a difference in the lives of people living with cancer who are otherwise vulnerable to hunger. We are grateful for this generous grant.”

Source:
Beth Bukata
American Society for Radiation Oncology

Christopher McCulloch Receives The IADR Research In Oral Biology Award

The 2009 Research in Oral Biology Award will be presented to Dr. Christopher McCulloch, from the University of Toronto, ON, Canada, at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) 87th General Session & Exhibition in Miami, Florida, USA, on April 1, 2009.

Dr. McCulloch has been professor in the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry since 1994. He also serves as Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Group in Matrix Dynamics and Canada Research Chair in Matrix Dynamics.

Dr. McCulloch received his B.Sc., D.D.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto, and has more than 200 publications on topics including mechanisms that regulate the fibroblast cytoskeleton, collagen remodeling in the periodontium, and the responses of fibroblasts to inflammatory cytokines and mechanosensory signals. This work led to advances such as guided tissue regeneration, the first automated periodontal probe, and clinical studies linking metalloproteinases and progression of periodontitis, as well as several patents.

Sponsored by Church & Dwight Company, the Research in Oral Biology Award is one of the 16 IADR Distinguished Scientist Awards and is one of the highest honors bestowed by IADR. The award consists of a monetary prize and plaque and recognizes outstanding research in the field of oral biology.

Notes:

About the International Association for Dental Research

The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) is a nonprofit organization with more than 11,300 individual members worldwide, dedicated to: (1) advancing research and increasing knowledge to improve oral health, (2) supporting the oral health research community, and (3) facilitating the communication and application of research findings for the improvement of oral health worldwide.

Source: Ingrid Thomas

International & American Association for Dental Research