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Magnet helps target transplanted iron-loaded cells to key areas of heart

HeartJun 26 12

Optimal stem cell therapy delivery to damaged areas of the heart after myocardial infarction has been hampered by inefficient homing of cells to the damaged site. However, using rat models, researchers in France have used a magnet to guide cells loaded with iron oxide nanoparticles to key sites, enhancing the myocardial retention of intravascularly delivered endothelial progenitor cells.

The study is published in a recent issue of Cell Transplantation (21:4), now freely available on-line at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct/,

“Cell therapy is a promising approach to myocardial regeneration and neovascularization, but currently suffers from the inefficient homing of cells after intracavitary infusion,” said Dr. Philippe Menasche of the INSERM U633 Laboratory of Surgical Research in Paris. “Our study was aimed at improving and controlling homing by loading human cord-blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) for transplant with iron oxide nanoparticles in order to better position and retain them in the hearts of myocardial-injured test rats by using a subcutaneously implanted magnet.”

The researchers found that the cells were sufficiently magnetic to be able to be remotely manipulated by a magnet subsequent to implantation.

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Moderate exercise tied to lower breast cancer risk

Cancer • • Breast CancerJun 25 12

Women who exercise moderately may be less likely than their inactive peers to develop breast cancer after menopause, a study published Monday suggests.

Researchers found that of more than 3,000 women with and without breast cancer, those who’d exercised during their childbearing years were less likely to develop the cancer after menopause.

The same was true when women took up exercise after menopause.

And it did not take a vigorous workout; regular exercise at any intensity level was linked to a lower breast cancer risk, the researchers say.

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Gastric bypass for weight loss increases alcohol use, study says

Surgery • • Weight LossJun 18 12

A major new study confirms previous sporadic reports that weight-loss surgery increases the risk of alcohol abuse, researchers reported Monday. In the second year after having a gastric bypass, technically known as Roux-en-Y surgery, patients were 30% more likely to have problems controlling their alcohol use, a team reported online in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. and at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Previous reports have suggested that alcohol abuse could be a problem following bariatric surgery, but the studies have been small and generally involved collecting data at some point after the procedure. In the new study, a team led by epidemiologist Wendy C. King of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine began studying 2,458 adults before they underwent bariatric surgery at one of 10 hospitals. Of those, 1,945 could be monitored for one to two years after the procedure.

The team found that 7.6% of the patients suffered from alcohol-abuse disorders (abuse and dependence) in the year before the surgery. At the end of one year after the procedure, the percentage was about the same, 7.3%. But by the end of the second year, the prevalence of such disorders had climbed to 9.6%, a 30% increase. Virtually all of the increase occurred in patients who had undergone gastric bypass, with no increase among the roughly 30% of patients who had a banding procedure.

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Father of Ga. woman with flesh-eating disease says she’s suffering worst pain of entire ordeal

Infections • • PainJun 17 12

The father of a Georgia woman battling a flesh-eating disease says his daughter has been suffering the worst pain of her entire ordeal.

Andy Copeland says his daughter, Aimee, sometimes cries from the pain but stops because crying hurts her stomach. She had resisted taking pain medications in recent days.

Andy Copeland said in a Father’s Day post on his blog that she’s now taking morphine and other medications, but they aren’t enough to block severe pain, which has now spread beyond painful amputation sites.

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Radioactive medicine without the nuclear headache

Headaches • • Public HealthJun 17 12

A made-in-Canada solution to our medical-isotope problem could come from a machine with a name that could have been pulled straight from the pages of a science fiction novel: the cyclotron.

“It was really pooh-poohed, this idea of using cyclotrons; they said there was no way we could produce enough in a commercially meaningful way,” says John Wilson, the cyclotron facilities manager at the University of Alberta’s Cross Cancer Institute.

In mid-2010, scientists at the University of Sherbrooke and the University of Alberta made technetium-99m, the most commonly used medical isotope, without a nuclear reactor. Last fall, the Alberta scientists began putting the cyclotron-produced technetium-99m through its paces, testing it in animals and humans, and found that the medical scans looked the same as those done using the regular stuff.

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Valeant to buy private dental company for $312 million

Public HealthJun 15 12

Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc will buy privately held drugmaker OraPharma for about $312 million, to enter the dental market.

The company, which has been on a buying spree across various geographies since Michael Pearson took over as its chief executive four years ago, said it will also pay $114 million in potential contingent payments based on certain milestones.

The deal, which is expected to close in June, will add to Valeant’s earnings in 2012, the company said in a statement.

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Researchers urge EU not to cut stem cell funding

Public HealthJun 15 12

Leading scientists, biomedical research bodies and patient groups urged the European Parliament on Friday to maintain vital European Union funding for studies using embryonic stem cells.

Hailing the field as “one of the most exciting and promising” in modern biomedical research, the group said they feared research grants currently under review may be under threat from pro-life European parliamentarians who say public funds should not be spent on embryonic stem cell work.

“(EU) Commission funding must be available to continue to support scientists investigating all types of stem cells - including human embryonic stem cells - with potential to make advances in regenerative medicine,” they wrote in an open letter released by the Wellcome Trust, a charitable health foundation.

The European Parliament is currently debating the future outline of Horizon 2020, the EU’s program for research and innovation which will run from 2014 to 2020.

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Why are female doctors paid less than male counterparts?

Public HealthJun 13 12

Male doctors earn more than their female counterparts, even if they have similar hours, titles and specialties, according to new American research.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and Duke University conducted an analysis that found male doctors earn about $12,000 more a year than female physicians. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The gender pay disparity we found in this highly talented and select group of physicians was sobering,” Reshma Jagsi, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School and lead author of the study said in a press release.

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Development of prosthetic hands stagnated for twenty years

Public Health • • TraumaJun 12 12

The development of body-powered prosthetic hands has stagnated for over twenty years. That is the main conclusion of a study by researchers from TU Delft and the University of Groningen into this type of prosthesis, which is published in the American Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development.

High operating force
The study, which was carried out by researchers from TU Delft and the University of Groningen, measured the force required to operate a number of contemporary body-powered prosthetic hands. The researchers compared the results to earlier measurements from 1987 and came up with remarkable results: today’s prosthetic hands perform equally or less well than those from 1987. The grip strength of the hands is insufficient and a very high operating force is required. Another remarkable result: a prosthetic hand developed in 1945 performed better in the test than the newer prosthetic hands.

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Obesity negatively predicts minimal disease activity achievement in patients with PSA

Arthritis • • Obesity • • Rheumatic DiseasesJun 07 12

According to a study presented today at EULAR 2012, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) who are starting anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) treatment and adhere to a hypocaloric diet have a significantly greater chance of achieving minimal disease activity (MDA, an important measure of disease activity) at six months compared to those on a standard diet.

The results of an Italian study of 138 obese PsA patients demonstrated that those who achieved a ≥10% weight loss following a calorie restricted diet, were more likely to achieve MDA, compared to patients on a standard diet (p=0.001). These patients also had significantly higher changes in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, a test that indirectly measures the amount of inflammation in the body), and c-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of systemic inflammation, a recently identified predictor of structural damage progression) compared to patients on a standard diet.

“A study presented at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology, alerted us to the fact that patients with psoriatic arthritis have an increased prevalence of obesity, however our study has gone beyond that, assessing whether diet is able to improve the achievement of minimal disease activity in obese patients treated with anti-TNFs” said Dr. Dario Di Minno from the University of Naples Federico II, Italy and lead author of the study. “The results of our study suggest that obese patients with psoriatic arthritis who stick to a hypocaloric diet have a greater chance of achieving treatment goals.”

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Soccer players often recover from fractures: study

Public HealthJun 07 12

Most soccer players who break a bone will return to the playing field and compete at the same level as before their injury, a new study from Scotland suggests.

On average, it took injured players in the study 15 weeks to get back to their full playing ability, with leg fractures requiring more time away from the sport than broken arms, the researchers found.

“Soccer players, managers and coaches now have a realistic picture of what to expect following a fracture during soccer,” said Dr. Gregory Robertson, an orthopedic trauma resident at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, who worked on the study.

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Stryker to take charge to end US knee-device probe

TraumaJun 05 12

Orthopedic implant maker Stryker Corp said it will take a charge of $33 million in the second quarter for an expected settlement of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into one of its artificial knee devices.

The charge, which is Stryker’s estimate of what it will cost to settle the probe into marketing practices concerning its OtisKnee device, is expected to reduce its reported diluted earnings per share by about 9 cents in the second quarter, Stryker said. The Kalamazoo, Michigan-based company said it will exclude the charge from its adjusted earnings per share.

In 2010, Stryker received a subpoena alleging violations of laws prohibiting sales of a medical device not cleared for marketing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Doctors try to make sense of cancer’s genetic jumble

CancerJun 05 12

Not too long ago, knowing the organ where a cancer first takes hold was generally all a doctor needed to determine what treatments to use. Not anymore.

Advances in understanding cancer at the molecular level mean doctors can better select the drugs that will most help individual patients. To do so, they must identify which genetic mutations are driving the growth of a patient’s tumor, and that shift is making their work much harder.

“We’ve had this biological revolution that has sliced the pie for these cancers finer and finer as we’ve learned more about the genomics of cancer,” said Dr. George Sledge, co-director of the breast cancer program at Indiana University and a past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

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Experimental drug shrinks cancer tumors

Cancer • • Drug NewsJun 03 12

An experimental cancer drug successfully shrank tumors in patients with different kinds of cancer, including typically hard-to-treat lung cancers, according to a new study. Oncologists said the research was encouraging, but more study was needed to know whether the drug would prolong life for cancer patients.

The study, led by Dr. Suzanne Topalian, was presented Friday at the Super Bowl of cancer professionals, a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a small, early phase study, researchers used a drug targeting a portion of the body’s immune system, a pathway called PD-1, which usually works to stop the body from fighting cancerous tumors. By shutting down the pathway, the drug stokes the body’s immune system to fight tumor cells.

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In Vitro Fertilization Less Successful With Alternative Fertility Treatments

Fertility and pregnancy • • Gender: FemaleJun 01 12

Women who are desperately trying to get pregnant might want to avoid complementary and alternative medicine.

The common belief is that it won’t hurt to try alternative fertility treatments before reverting to in vitro fertilization (IVF). But a new study from Denmark finds that the success of IVF treatment is 30% lower among women who have used alternative medicine. The researchers included over 700 IVF users over a 12-month period. Women who had first tried a combination of alternative treatments, such as reflexology, acupuncture, or herbal- and aroma therapy, had significantly lower pregnancy rates after IVF treatment.

Alex Polyakov and Beverley Vollenhoven of the Faculty of 1000 Medicine emphasize the relevance of the study for IVF clinics. “It is important, when discussing IVF treatment with couples, that their use of alternative therapies is also discussed, as this may have a bearing on treatment success.”

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