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."



Accurate Way to Predict the Age When Women Will Hit the Menopause Developed
Iran - Researchers have developed a way of accurately predicting when women will hit the menopause using a simple blood test. The average difference between the predicted age and the actual age that the women in their study reached the menopause was only a third of a year, and the maximum margin of error was between three and four years.

The project was presented at a conference in Rome on fertility and could be used outside laboratories, but if it proves effective on a wider panel. This would allow women to discover early on in their reproductive life what their expected age at menopause will be, so that they can plan when to start a family through the measurement of the rate of hormone anti-Mullerian (AMH) in the blood. In the trial, researchers at the University of Medical Sciences Shahid Beheshti have a blood test to a group of 266 women aged 20-49 years every three years to measure their hormone AMH.

Scientists have therefore established a statistical model to identify AMH levels at different ages that would predict if women were likely to have an early menopause (before the age of 45). She found that, for instance, AMH levels of 4.1 ng/ml or less predicted early menopause in 20-year-olds, AMH levels of 3.3 ng/ml predicted it in 25-year-olds, and AMH levels of 2.4 ng/ml predicted it in 30-year-olds.

In contrast, AMH levels of at least 4.5 ng/ml at the age of 20, 3.8 ngl/ml at 25 and 2.9 ng/ml at 30 all predicted an age at menopause of over 50 years old. The researchers found that the average age at menopause for the women in their study was approximately 52.

They concluded: "Our findings indicate that AMH is capable of specifying a woman's reproductive status more realistically than chronological age per se. Considering that this is a small study that has looked at women over a period of time, larger studies starting with women in their twenties and following them for several years are needed to validate the accuracy of serum AMH concentration for the prediction of menopause in young women."

Story Source:
Provided by European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology



Androgen Receptor May Explain Male Dominance in Liver Cancer

Hepatitis B and liver cancer: why men are more exposed?
Sex hormones play a role in liver cancer associated with hepatitis B, which could finally explain why men infected with the virus are much more likely than women to say the cancer according to a new study published in the journal "Translational Medicine". These findings open new perspectives for treatment of skin cancer including drugs targeting the androgen receptor tumors.

The liver cancer, which affects the largest organ in the body, is the fifth most common cancer and the third in terms of mortality worldwide. Infections due to hepatitis B virus, endemic in many Asian countries including China, are responsible for about half the cases of liver cancer worldwide.

The virus interacts with the androgen receptor:
In this study, researchers have discovered why men with hepatitis B are more likely to develop liver cancer than women. The answer lies in the genome of the virus: it contains a particular sequence of DNA that specifically interacts with the receptor to male sex hormones, androgens. In liver cells, a cascade of reactions harmful to the liver tissue is triggered when the receptor binds to this sequence.

Researchers have discovered that targeting the androgen receptor, rather than hormones themselves, they could inhibit tumor growth in mice significantly. They also produced, for their experiments, the first genetically modified mouse with hepatitis B can develop

liver tumors following exposure to low doses of carcinogen. They then showed the androgen receptor could be removed with a chemical causing the arrest of tumor growth. The treatment had no influence on circulating levels of androgens in the body and showed no apparent toxicity in mice.

These results suggest that drugs capable of targeting the androgen receptor rather that these hormones could be a promising therapy against liver cancer.

Androgen Receptor Promotes Hepatitis B Virus-Induced Through Modulation hepatocarcinogenesis of Hepatitis B Virus RNA Transcript . Ming-Heng Wu, Wen-Lung Ma, Cheng-Lung Hsu, Yuh-Ling Chen, Jing-Hsiung James Or, Charlotte Kathryn Ryan, Yao-Ching Hung, Shuyuan Yeh, Chang Chawnshang. Translational Medicine
Link: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/2/32/32ra35.abstract

Story Source:
The above story is from materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center.
Link: http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=2863



Replacing white rice with brown rice or other whole grains may reduce diabetes risk
World - In a new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, eating two or more servings of brown rice per week was associated with a lower risk of the disease.

Much of the world's population consumes rice. These results reflect the fact that white rice is refined and then processed. Therefore, people must prefer the brown rice. Other whole grains, like wheat, promise even greater benefits. Regular consumption reduces the risk of diabetes by 36%.

This study points out how important it is for health to eat whole grains. This must obviously be done in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, both on the eating habits of physical activity.

Source: Harvard School of Public Health

Journal Reference:
Qi Sun; Donna Spiegelman; Rob M. van Dam; Michelle D. Holmes; Vasanti S. Malik; Walter C. Willett; Frank B. Hu. White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Arch Intern Med, 2010; 170 (11): 961-969
Link: http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/170/11/961



Genetics: Creating a cell with synthetic DNA
United States - John Craig Venter, an American biologist shows for his research in genome sequencing, has managed his teams to create the first bacterium with a fully synthetic genome.

This bacterium has been made from the sequencing of the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides. It's been 15 years since researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Maryland, harnessed to the task. The cell contains more than one million base pairs, which is low compared to six billion contained in the human genome.

This is a great advance in the field of genetics, this research could lead to the design of artificial life forms that could help produce biofuels or pharmaceuticals. Important ethical issues arise, however, due to possible drifts around this technique.

Scanning electron micrographs of M. mycoides
More information can be found on the J. Craig Venter Institute web site at: http://www.jcvi.org/cms/research/projects/first-self-replicating-synthetic-bacterial-cell/

Journal Reference:
Daniel G. Gibson, John I. Glass, Carole Lartigue, Vladimir N. Noskov, Ray-Yuan Chuang, Mikkel A. Algire, Gwynedd A. Benders, Michael G. Montague, Li Ma, Monzia M. Moodie, Chuck Merryman, Sanjay Vashee, Radha Krishnakumar, Nacyra Assad-Garcia, Cynthia Andrews-Pfannkoch, Evgeniya A. Denisova, Lei Young, Zhi-Qing Qi, Thomas H. Segall-Shapiro, Christopher H. Calvey, Prashanth P. Parmar, Clyde A. Hutchison III, Hamilton O. Smith, and J. Craig Venter. Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome. Science, May 20, 2010 DOI: 10.1126 / science.1190719



Campaign Cancer Screening Cervical
France - The National Cancer Institute launched a national awareness campaign to screening for cervical cancer of the uterus, causing over a thousand deaths a year.

Throughout the month of June, the 23,000 pharmacies in France and overseas and occupational physicians will make the relay of information and awareness of women screened for cervical cancer. If the vaccine against certain Papillomavirus (HPV) protects the appearance of 70% of cervical cancers, Pap smear screening is recommended for all women, vaccinated or not.

Regular screening can detect early precancerous lesions and cancer of the cervix and treated effectively. Screening is recommended for all women 25 to 65 years, vaccinated or not, every three years (after the first two normal smears performed one year apart). The doctor may decide that a more regular screening according to the history of the patient.

The smear test is a quick, easy and painless of levying cells of the cervix. The review, requested by the attending physician or gynecologist, is covered by health insurance. In case of positive results, other tests may be performed to determine the nature of the anomaly.

The vaccine against certain types of HPV is recommended for girls 14 years old, but young women 15 to 23 years have not had sex or within one year after the start of their sex life may benefit. The vaccine coverage remains partial (70% of cancers) and the screening required.



Blood Pressure Varies With Social Status
France - A study by a team of Inserm Unit 707 and the Center for Preventive and Clinical Investigations of Paris shows that the more educated a person, but his district of residence, the lower blood pressure will be.

The study involved 7292 people aged 30 to 79 years, between March 2007 and February 2008 in Paris and its suburbs. She tried to target the social variations in health, including coronary diseases and their risk factors. He had already been shown that hypertension is more common in disadvantaged populations. But the study has pushed the analysis further.

Researchers are also interested in the education of the person and his parents, his profession, his state of unemployment, income, his financial stress, the tenure of housing, level of development country of birth, among others. In comparing all these factors, they noted a strong correlation between blood pressure, education level and the individual's home neighborhood.

Known causes of hypertension are the consumption of tobacco and alcohol use, overweight and obesity, lack of physical activity. Researchers have therefore included these cases in their analysis and showed that body mass index was higher by a factor widely implicated in hypertension. Obesity explain nearly half of the links between hypertension and education level of the neighborhood.



Avian flu: It's too cold in the human nose that H5N1 can spread
While all the media attention at the moment is focused towards the H1N1 influenza A (also known as swine flu), researchers continue to try to understand how the H5N1 avian influenza. In an article published in the journal free online access PLoS Pathogens (reference below), an Anglo-American study reveals that a likely reason why the H5N1 avian influenza infects human with difficulty is the relatively low temperature (32 ° C) environment of the proximal human airway. It is possible that the epidemic of avian influenza (H5N1) in Southeast Asia was in 2007, which inter-species transmission has remained sporadic, never ever be transformed into a human pandemic because the mutations that might have made virus infection in humans have not occurred.

Temperature difference between distal and proximal human airway
Because previous studies showing that the H5N1 virus infecting the more distal (bronchi) that the proximal side (nose, throat) of the human airway, scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (U.S.) and Imperial College London (United Kingdom) have hypothesized that the temperature difference between the two areas have been crucial to prevent zoonosis (transmission of animal disease to humans and vice versa). To provide some answers to their hypothesis, the U.S. and British researchers have used an in vitro model of human ciliated cells from the airways, they were seeded at temperatures of 37 ° C or 32 ° C ( to mimic the existing conditions of distal or proximal). In the first case, the two types of human and avian viruses infecting cell cultures efficiently, while at 32 ° C, only the human virus demonstrated efficiency of infection of cells in culture. These results are consistent with the fact that the infection in birds takes place in the intestine, and then at 40 ° C.

The important role of glycoproteins in the adjustment to room temperature
It is furthermore known that the influenza virus present at position 627 in the PB2 polymerase (element responsible for the replication of influenza virus genome in the host cell), an amino acid plays a crucial role in Adaptation of virus to the environmental temperature within the same host. The replacement of this residue of the human virus by that of avian virus but did not explain the difference between the infectious properties of both viruses at different temperatures. The researchers then used two types of human viruses, the H3N2 and H1N1, and replaced some of their surface proteins (glycoproteins, see box) by surface proteins of influenza virus. The human viruses as amended showed reduced ability to infect human cells ciliated cells cultured at 32 ° C, suggesting an important role of these glycoproteins in the adjustment to room temperature, and therefore a crucial role in limited transmission of H5N1 influenza viruses in humans and in the inter-human contagion.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC Council for Medical Research) in the United Kingdom and by the NIH in the United States is important because in the words of Professor Wendy Barclay, Imperial College London,

"It is impossible to develop vaccines against the 16 subtypes of avian viruses [...]. By studying a range of viruses, we can nevertheless determine what changes come to significantly increase the risk of zoonoses and contagion in the human species. "

The Influenza Virus
The influenza virus belongs to the family Orthomyxoviridae, enveloped viruses with single-stranded RNA and having a spherical shape 80 to 100 nm in diameter. There are three types of influenza viruses named A, B and C. Their surface is studded with surface proteins or glycoproteins, also known as surface antigens. Viruses A and B have two types, the hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). The hemagglutinin is responsible for virus attachment on a sialic acid residue on the surface of cells of the ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract, and the fusion of viral and cellular membranes during the penetration phase virus. Neuraminidase, in turn, allows the release into the host cell virions pre-formed, and the posting of the hemagglutinin (and therefore the virus particle) of the cell membrane of the host.

Article: Avian Influenza Virus Glycoproteins Restrict Virus Replication and Spread Through Human Airway Epithelium at Temperatures of the Proximal Airways
Authors: Margaret A. Scull, Laura Gillim-Ross, Celia Santos, Kim L. Roberts, Elena Bordonali, Kanta Subbarao, Wendy S. Barclay, Raymond J. Pickles
Published Journal: PLoS Pathogens
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000424

Source: BE UK number 97


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