Hepatitis C:  A New Anti-Viral Drug Shows Dramatic Improvement in the Treatment

World - Adding a direct acting anti-viral boceprevir drug to the standard treatment regimen for hepatitis C significantly increases the cure rate in the most difficult to treat patients, according to a research report published in the online edition of the Journal The Lancet. The research team, led by Paul Kwo, M.D., of Indiana University School of Medicine, reported that adding the drug nearly doubled the treatment's effectiveness when given for 48 weeks in one treatment arm of the study.

The treatment used so far to fight against hepatitis C is a combination of two drugs: ribavirin and pegylated interferon. In sixty-seven hospitals around the world, in Europe, the United States and Canada, patients have tested a new treatment, which adds boceprevir both antiviral above. The study further showed that this drug can double the rate of healing.

This test was conducted on patients infected with genotype 1 hepatitis C, that is to say most dangerous, because the more recalcitrant to treatment. This study is great news for all carriers of the virus, which represent over 170 million people worldwide and at risk of developing liver cancer or cirrhosis.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Indiana University School of Medicine.



Ophthalmology: Stem Cells to Repair the Cornea
Italy - A study published the work of Italian doctors who restored sight to more than 100 people, restoring their corneas from stem cells taken from patients' eyes themselves.

Researchers at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine Stefano Modena Ferrari have taken on the limb - a membrane surrounding the iris - a few of each patient and healthy stem cells were grown in the laboratory before transplanting them onto the cornea, where zones accidentally destroyed have been regenerated in a quasi-natural.

The main advantage of this technique is that with a durability of 10 years, the effect is more durable than a conventional corneal transplant, and free from any risk of rejection because the subject itself provides the material for its healing . It is therefore an interesting alternative to installing artificial cornea, a potential source of infection and after a cornea transplant from a deceased donor, requiring anti-rejection drugs.

This method applies to people whose cornea has been burned by chemicals have also changed the blade, preventing it from playing its usual role of regeneration of corneal cells. Simply take a square millimeter of leaf - usually on the eye intact - to start the culture of stem cells. The study examined 112 patients and volunteers - including one with both eyes met - treaties between 1998 and 2007 with a success rate of 76.6% complete. Some progress seen as a miracle by some of these patients, partially or totally blind since sometimes many years after the failure of more conventional therapies.



Spinal Cord Injury: Hope To Improve Healing
The spinal cord often tragic consequences, about half of people suffering such an injury following an accident are paraplegic and have to undergo costly and lengthy hospitalization rehabilitation sessions. U.S. researchers have made a discovery that opens the way for new treatments. A protein called SUR1 (sulfonylurea receptor 1) plays a crucial role in the aggravation of an injury to the spinal cord according to this new study published in Science Translational Medicine

Paradox: a protective mechanism aggravates injury:
A sharp blow to the spine can break or dislocate the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy the axons, extensions of these nerve cells which pass into the spinal cord the signals between the brain and rest of body. Even if the spinal cord is not self-destruct after a serious injury, the paradox is that in attempting to protect herself is even more damaging its own cells.

Encoded by the gene ABCC8 activated after injury, the SUR1 protein is part of defense mechanism that protects cells from death due to excessive calcium entry. Sur1 also allows the introduction of sodium, which helps reduce the amount of calcium entering cells. In a serious injury, however, this protective mechanism goes awry and the SUR1 protein is hyperactivated, leading to a uncontrolled entry of sodium which is fatal to cells.

Acting quickly after spinal cord
Marc Simard and colleagues at the University of Maryland at Baltimore have discovered after studying the tissue injury of the spinal cord in humans and rodents that the same mechanism of cell death and cell destruction involving SUR1 is involved both in humans than in mice or rats. By suppressing the expression of the gene ABCC8, researchers have managed to stop in mice the process of self-destruction and to improve long-term recovery from spinal cord injuries. They showed in rats that if they stop short of ABCC8 expression using an oligonucleotide, a small sequence of DNA single strand-specific gene, the lesions after spinal cord injuries are much more limited ( 75% of lesions less).

The study indicates that treatment with this oligonucleotide as quickly as possible after spinal cord injury patients may reduce tissue destruction that follows and improve their long-term restoration. The researchers also show that a drug inhibitor of SUR1 (glibenclamide) has also yielded promising results.

Brief ABCC8 Prevents Suppression of Self-destruction of Spinal Cord After Trauma. J. Marc Simard, S. Kyoon Woo, Michael D. Norenberg, Cigdem Tosun, Zheng Chen, Svetlana Ivanova, Orest Tsymbalyuk, Joseph Bryan, Douglas Landsman & Volodymyr Gerzanich. Science Translational Medicine.
Link: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/2/28/28ra29.abstract


Increasing Fertility Threefold With DHEA?
Israel - A team of researcher from a Tel Aviv University has studied the effect of DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) on women trying to become pregnant.

DHEA is known by consumers as the hormone of youth. Some say it slows the aging of the skin. However, its effectiveness remains controversial. Following rumors, Professor Adrian Shulman and his team focused on its properties in terms of fertility. As part of a program of in vitro fertilization, they found that women who took DHEA in addition to standard treatment had 23% chance of getting pregnant while those who did not follow the usual treatment had only 4% opportunities. In addition, women in the first group lived a pregnancy and childbirth more serene.

These results are nonetheless viewed with caution. In effect , the experiment was performed on only 20 women. It would require a larger study to lead to conclusive results. In addition, researchers have not yet discovered what was the mechanism for DHEA to increase fertility.

Story Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University.
Link: http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=12457



Antagonizing Atherosclerosis
France - Atherosclerosis or fatty plaque build up on the arterial wall is the source of most cardiovascular diseases. While B cells of the immune system were previously considered as elements of protection against the formation of these plaques, researchers from Inserm now refute this hypothesis. These findings were published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the arteries triggered by several factors, including increased cholesterol and characterized by an accumulation of lipids (fats) in the arterial wall in the form of plaques. The rupture of these plaques is responsible for the majority of cardiovascular diseases, like myocardial infarction or stroke. These diseases are the leading cause of death in industrialized countries. It is therefore essential to identify patients at risk and to understand the progression of the disease, to prevent and treat it.

The immune response (macrophages, B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes) which varies among
individuals plays an important
role in the progression of these plaques and thus in the development of complications of cardiovascular disease. To date, the role assigned to all B cells seemed protective of atherosclerosis.

However, the work led by Ziad Mallat now clearly refute this hypothesis. The researcher showed in fact that using an antibody against B cells and causing the disappearance of 96% of
them provides significant protection against
development of atherosclerosis. This antibody is
used very effectively in humans, in the treatment of certain inflammatory
diseases. The protective effect is due to decreased production of an immune system hormone, interferon gamma which promotes atherosclerosis and increased interleukin-17 a protective hormone.

These findings have important clinical implications. They suggest that treatments directed against B cells currently administered to patients suffering from inflammatory diseases such as
lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, may reduce
cardiovascular risk. Clinical trials have been undertaken in this direction by the team and aim to assess the extent of atherosclerosis before and after treatment.

Journal Reference:
Ait-Oufella, H., et al. B cell depletion reduces the development of atherosclerosis in mice. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2010.
Link: http://jem.rupress.org/content/early/2010/06/30/jem.20100155



Early Menopause: Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
United States - A more than doubled risk of developing cardiovascular disease was observed in postmenopausal women before age 46.

The results are being presented at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

A Menopause is considered premature when it occurs before the age of 46 years, either spontaneously or by the removal of both ovaries. For the women concerned, all ethnicities, the risk of cardiovascular disease after 55 years would be more than doubled.

Unfortunately, treatment with hormone replacement can reduce these risks. In addition, the researchers behind this study can not yet explain this phenomenon. Therefore, these women will act on other factors related to cardiovascular diseases like hypertension or obesity.

Story Source:
The Endocrine Society. "Early Menopause Linked to Higher Risk of Future Cardiovascular Disease, Study Finds."


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