Friday, November 29, 2013

Cinnamon May Help Ease Common Cause of Infertility, Study Says...

A small study by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City found that women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took inexpensive daily cinnamon supplements experienced nearly twice the menstrual cycles over a six-month period as women with the syndrome given an inactive placebo. Two of the women in the treated group reported spontaneous pregnancies during the trial.
"There is a lot of interest in homeopathic or natural remedies for this condition," said study author Dr. Daniel Kort, a postdoctoral fellow in reproductive endocrinology at the medical center. "This may be something we can do using a totally natural substance that can help a large group of patients."
The study was scheduled for presentation Wednesday at a meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston.
An estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of women of childbearing age have polycystic ovary syndrome, with up to 5 million Americans affected. Polycystic ovary syndrome, which involves many of the body's systems, is thought to be caused by insensitivity to the hormone insulin. Typical symptoms include menstrual irregularity, infertility, acne, excess hair growth on the face or body, and thinning scalp hair.
Treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome currently includes weight loss, ovulation-inducing drugs such as clomiphene (brand name Clomid) and diabetes medications such as metformin, said Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of the Center for Human Reproduction at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
Kort said that it's not yet clear exactly why cinnamon may work to regulate menstrual cycles in those with polycystic ovary syndrome, but it may improve the body's ability to process glucose and insulin. Prior research among diabetic patients suggested the spice can reduce insulin resistance.
Of the 16 patients who completed Kort's trial, 11 were given daily 1,500-milligram cinnamon supplements and five were given placebo pills. Diet and activity levels were monitored, and patients completed monthly menstrual calendars.
After six months, women receiving cinnamon had significant improvement in menstrual cycle regularity, having an average of nearly four menstrual periods over that time compared to an average of 2.2 periods among the placebo group. Two women reported spontaneous pregnancies after three months of cinnamon treatment, meaning they became pregnant without additional help.
Polycystic ovary syndrome "is one of the most common causes why women don't have regular menstrual cycles," Kort said. "But the clinical consequences later in life are truly great from an increased risk of diabetes and glucose intolerance to endometrial cancer. Many women can go their whole lives without regular menstrual cycles, and it doesn't necessarily bother them until they want to have children."
The 1,500-milligram cinnamon dose was chosen for this trial because it was between the 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily that seemed to have metabolic effects on diabetic patients in earlier research, Kort said. But all doses in that range are cheaply obtained, costing pennies per capsule.
"Compared to most medical therapies these days, the cost is very small," he said.
Although the study suggests a link between cinnamon and improvement of polycystic ovary syndrome, it doesn't establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
Still, Hershlag called the study "welcome and interesting" and said he sees no reason women with polycystic ovary syndrome shouldn't use more cinnamon in their food or take cinnamon supplements.
"Any work that's something nutritional in nature and seems to affect the abnormal physiology of polycystic ovaries is welcome," Hershlag said. "If they want to spice up their life and take it, that's fine , but I think the best thing to do when you have polycystic ovaries is to be under the control of a physician."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bacteria-eating viruses 'magic bullets in the war on superbugs'

Dr Martha Clokie, from the University of Leicester's Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation has been investigating an alternative approach to antibiotics, which utilizes naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages, meaning 'eaters of bacteria'.

The work has predominantly been funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Dr Clokie said: "Ever since the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, antibiotics have been heralded as the 'silver bullets' of medicine. They have saved countless lives and impacted on the well-being of humanity.

"But less than a century following their discovery, the future impact of antibiotics is dwindling at a pace that no one anticipated, with more and more bacteria out-smarting and 'out-evolving' these miracle drugs. This has re-energised the search for new treatments.

"One alternative to antibiotics is bacteriophages, known as phages, which unlike antibiotics, are specific in what they kill and will generally only infect one particular species, or even strain, of bacteria -- referred to as the 'host'. Following attachment to their hosts, they inject their DNA into the bacterium, which then replicates many times over, ultimately causing the bacterial cell to burst open. The phages released from the dead bacterium can then infect other host cells."

Dr. Clokie and her team have achieved the remarkable feat of isolating and characterising the largest known set of distinct C. diff phages that infect clinically relevant strains of C. diff. Of these, a specific mixture of phages have been proved, through extensive laboratory testing, to be effective against 90% of the most clinically relevant C. diff strains currently seen in the U.K.

As a testament to their therapeutic potential, these phages, that are the subject of a patent application, have been licensed by AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation -- a US-based biopharmaceutical company and pioneers in developing phage-based therapeutics. AmpliPhi have already made progress in developing phages targeted against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen that causes acute, life-threatening lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. They were also the first biopharmaceutical company to demonstrate the effectiveness ofPseudomonas phages in controlled and regulated human clinical trials.

Read more

Painkillers May Worsen Headaches Following Concussion

The researchers found that daily headache, female sex, the presence of nausea, throbbing headache versus steady or stabbing pain, irritability following concussion, and a relatively longer interval between the concussive event and neurological evaluation were more common in the 54 patients with probable medication-overuse headache than in the 23 without. Within two months of stopping analgesics, 37 of the 54 in the probable group had improvement in symptoms, i.e., complete resolution or reversion to preconcussion levels of the headache. The study was presented as a poster session at the Child Neurology Society (CNS) annual meeting, held during October-November 2013 in Austin.

“Continued use of analgesics for headache despite lack of efficacy can cause chronification of a headache syndrome. Because withdrawal of painkillers alleviated these patients' headaches, a diagnosis of medication-overuse headache may be made,” concluded study authors Geoffrey Heyer, MD, and Syed Idris, MD. “Management of patients with prolonged postconcussion headache should include analgesic detoxification when medication overuse is suspected.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MNK-795 for acute pain management: an interview with Dr Lynn Webster

MNK-795 is an investigational, extended-release, oral formulation of oxycodone  (left) and acetaminophen (right) that has been studied for the management of moderate to severe acute pain where the use of an opioid analgesic is appropriate. 

MNK-795 is a product in development that is intended to be used for acute pain. It has some unique properties. First, it is an extended release formulation, meaning that it’s going to last more than three to four hours. It was studied to be dosed once every 12 hours, and that is unique for an acute pain formulation.

Secondly, it has abuse deterrent properties which mean that the new design and technology within this formulation may prevent people who try to manipulate, alter or convert the extended release into an immediate release in order to achieve a greater high.

Research has found that when the formulation is manipulated, when it’s crushed in some way or ground up, it actually delays the onset of some of its properties, the liking properties. So rather than causing more liking, more of a high, it actually causes less of a liking and less of a high when it’s manipulated.

This is the first time I’m aware that any technology has delayed and lessened the liking once it’s manipulated. I must, however, stress that at present these are only research results and we cannot yet confirm how MNK-795 will perform in the real world.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Researchers discover new approach to tackle global threat of antibiotic drug resistance

Researchers at McMaster University are addressing the crisis in drug resistance with a novel approach to find new antibiotics.

"We have developed technology to find new antibiotics using laboratory conditions that mimic those of infection in the human body," said Eric Brown, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.

He is the lead author of the paper published in the online edition of Nature Chemical Biology today. Brown is also a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR).

The findings report on the discovery of chemical compounds that block the ability of bacteria to make vitamins and amino acids, processes that are emerging as Achilles' heels for bacteria that infect the human body.

"The approach belies conventional thinking in antibiotic research and development, where researchers typically look for chemicals that block growth in the laboratory under nutrient-rich conditions, where vitamins and amino acids are plentiful," said Brown. "But in the human body these substances are in surprisingly short supply and the bacteria are forced to make these and other building blocks from scratch."

Brown's research group targeted these processes looking for chemicals that blocked the growth of bacteria under nutrient-limited conditions.

"We threw away chemicals that blocked growth in conventional nutrient-rich conditions and focused instead on those that were only active in nutrient-poor conditions," he said.

"We're taking fresh aim at bacterial vitamin and amino acid production and finding completely novel antibacterial compounds."

The approach and the new leads discovered by Brown's lab have potential to provide much-needed therapies to address the growing global threat of antibiotic drug resistance.

"When it comes to this kind of new drug discovery technology, Brown's group are fishing in a new pond," said professor Gerry Wright, director of the IIDR. "These leads have real prospects as an entirely new kind of antibacterial therapy."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nail Fungus Drug Might Help Against HIV, Study Suggests - MedNews

We know that, Ciclopirox olamine (used in preparations called BatrafenLoproxMycosterPenlac and Stieprox) is a synthetic antifungal agent for topical dermatologic treatment of superficial mycoses. It is most useful against Tinea versicolor.

According to a new study this  drug used to treat nail fungus may hold promise against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Copper promises cheaper, sturdier fuel cells

The copper nanowire films consist of networks of microscopic metal rods, the properties and applications of which Wiley's lab has studied for years. The nanowires provide a high surface area for catalyzing chemistry, and Wiley's team experimented with coating them in either cobalt or nickel -- metals that serve as the actual chemical catalyst. Even with a coat of cobalt or nickel, the nanowire films allow nearly seven times more sunlight to pass through than ITO. The films are also flexible, leading Wiley to imagine the completed fuel cells one day being attached to backpacks or cars.
In the meantime, engineering and chemistry challenges remain. The nanowire films carry out only one half of the water-splitting equation, a process called water oxidation. The other half of the reaction involves using the electrons obtained from water oxidation to reduce water to hydrogen. Wiley's team expects to publish their work on this process in the coming year.
"A lot of groups are working on putting together complete devices to generate fuels from sunlight," he said, but "the efficiencies and costs of these systems have to be improved for them to get to commercial [production]."
Wiley noted that solar energy production is just one application of the copper nanowire films they study. The nanowires also show promise for use in flexible touch screens, organic LED (or OLED) lights and smart glass.

Ticagrelor drug may reduce risk of dying following heart attack

In continuation of my update on ticagrelor 

Scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered ground breaking clues as to how the pioneering heart drug ticagrelor might reduce the risk of dying following a heart attack, in comparison to previous standard treatments.

The new findings, published in Platelets, show that ticagrelor (see left structure above) may reduce the risk of dying as a result of a lung infection after suffering a heart attack compared to patients treated with the drug clopidogrel (see right structure below).

The analysis, which was led by researchers from the University of Sheffield and Uppsala University Sweden, is the latest to come from the PLATO study which originally included over 18,000 patients worldwide. 

In the initial PLATO study, the annual mortality rate for patients treated with clopidogrel was 5.9 per cent and this rate was significantly reduced to 4.5 per cent for patients treated with ticagrelor.

The extent of this reduced risk was unexpected, as previous similar trials had not been so successful in reducing mortality risk - prompting speculation as to the possible mechanisms for this benefit.

Professor Robert Storey said: "We have now shown that there were fewer deaths due to overwhelming bacterial infection (sepsis) in patients treated with ticagrelor, with lung infection accounting for the source of this sepsis in many cases.

"This is a surprising finding but does seem to provide a potential lead in explaining why ticagrelor saved so many lives in comparison to clopidogrel treatment.

"Ticagrelor not only has greater anticlotting activity compared to clopidogrel, which easily explains its greater effectiveness in preventing further heart attacks, but also has another property not possessed by clopidogrel that allows it to prevent adenosine from being cleared from the blood stream.

"Adenosine has many different effects in the body including influencing the activity of white blood cells that are involved in tackling pneumonia and other infections."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Caffeine in coffee may help small blood vessels work better

The caffeine in a cup of coffee might help your small blood vessels work better, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.

A study of 27 healthy adults showed - for the first time - that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee significantly improved blood flow in a finger, which is a measure of how well the inner lining of the body's smaller blood vessels work. Specifically, participants who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee had a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee.

"This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health," said Masato Tsutsui, M.D., Ph.D., lead researcher and a cardiologist and professor in the pharmacology department at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.
The study adds to a growing body of research about coffee, the most widely consumed beverage worldwide. Previous studies showed that drinking coffee is linked to lower risks of dying from heart disease and stroke, and that high doses of caffeine may improve the function of larger arteries.

New Cancer Targeting Technique to Improve Cancer Drugs

Cancer drugs work because they’re toxic, but that’s also why they afflict healthy cells, producing side effects that can compromise their efficacy. Nobuhide Ueki thinks he may have found a way to get the drugs to selectively target only the cancer cells, and his team’s patent-pending research is the subject of a paper entitled “Selective cancer targeting with prodrugs activated by histone deacetylases and a tumour-associated protease,” 

Authors demonstrate a new prodrug strategy for selective cancer therapy that utilizes increased histone deacetylase (HDAC) and tumour-associated protease activities produced in malignant cancer cells. By coupling an acetylated lysinegroup to puromycin, a masked cytotoxic agent is created, which is serially activated by HDAC and an endogenous protease cathepsin L (CTSL) that remove the acetyl group first and then the unacetylated lysine group liberating puromycin. The agent selectively kills human cancer cell lines with high HDAC and CTSL activities. In vivo studies confirm tumour growth inhibition in prodrug-treated mice bearing human cancer xenografts. This cancer-selective cleavage of the masking group is a promising strategy for the next generation of anticancer drug development that could be applied to many other cytotoxic agents.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Scientists develop new drug to treat obstructive airway diseases

Scientists have developed a new drug (RPL554, see structure) that could treat obstructive airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in two ways at once, according to new research published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. RPL554 has the potential to both reverse the narrowing of the airways (bronchodilation) and reduce inflammation quicker and with fewer side effects than current therapies.

“Further longer term studies of RPL554 are now eagerly awaited because this could be one of the most substantial advances for some time in the management of patients with chronic airway obstruction”, writes Professor Jadwiga A Wedzicha from University College London, UK, in a linked Comment.

The unique inhaled dual inhibitor—two actions in a single molecule—works by impeding the ability of two enzymes from the phosphodiesterase family (PDE3 and PDE4) to inhibit processes that help relax airway smooth muscle and reduce inflammation.

For the past 40 years, the mainstay of treatment for asthma and COPD (eg, chronic bronchitis and emphysema) has been inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids) plus bronchodilators (usually long-acting ß2 agonists). But corticosteroids can have substantial side effects, while long-acting ß2 agonists have come under scrutiny for their risk of worsening asthma symptoms. What is more, most people with severe disease and frequent flare-ups fail to achieve good control of symptoms and new treatments are needed. 

Between February, 2009 and January 3013, four small proof-of-concept clinical trials were done in the Netherlands, Italy, and the UK to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled RPL554 in healthy participants (39 people) and people with mild-to-moderate asthma (28) and COPD (12).

In COPD patients, a single dose of nebulised RPL554 improved respiratory function, producing a 17% increase in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume at 1 second; which measures the volume of air that can be forcibly exhaled in one second after taking a deep breath)—a bronchodilator response at least as effective as the widely use ß2 agonist Salbutamol.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nintedanib drug to treat NSCLC is submitted for approval from European Medicines Agency

In continuation of my update on NSCLC (non-small cell lung carcinoma)

We know that, Nintedanib (see structure, formerly BIBF 1120; trade name Vargatef) is a small molecule of angiokinase inhibitor class inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) and platelet derived growth factor receptor(PDGFR) being developed by Boehringer Ingelheim for use as an anti-vascular anti-cancer agent.

"We are proud that nintedanib, a compound out of our innovative oncology research programme, is the second compound in our portfolio to be filed with the European Medicines Agency."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Researchers identify C. perfringens type B bacteria believed to trigger multiple sclerosis

A research team from Weill Cornell Medical College and The Rockefeller University has identified a bacterium it believes may trigger multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic, debilitating disorder that damages myelin forming cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Their study, published in PLoS ONE, is the first to identify the bacterium, Clostridium(C.perfringens type B, in humans. The scientists say their study is small and must be expanded before a definitive connection between the pathogen and MS can be made, but they also say their findings are so intriguing that they have already begun to work on new treatments for the disease.

"This bacterium produces a toxin that we normally think humans never encounter. That we identified this bacterium in a human is important enough, but the fact that it is present in MS patients is truly significant because the toxin targets the exact tissues damaged during the acute MS disease process," say the study's first author, K. Rashid Rumah, an MD/PhD student at Weill Cornell Medical College, and the study's senior investigator, Dr. Timothy Vartanian, professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of the Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"While it is clear that new MS disease activity requires an environmental trigger, the identity of this trigger has eluded the MS scientific community for decades," Dr. Vartanian says. "Work is underway to test our hypothesis that the environmental trigger for MS lays within the microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria that populates the gastrointestinal tract and other body habitats of MS patients."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Combination of heat, doxorubicin drug and nanotech system may improve ovarian cancer treatment

The combination of heat, chemotherapeutic drugs and an innovative delivery system based on nanotechnology may significantly improve the treatment of ovarian cancerwhile reducing side effects from toxic drugs, researchers at Oregon State University report in a new study.
The findings, so far done only in a laboratory setting, show that this one-two punch of mild hyperthermia and chemotherapy can kill 95 percent of ovarian cancer cells, and scientists say they expect to improve on those results in continued research.

The work is important, they say, because ovarian cancer - one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in women - often develops resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs if it returns after an initial remission. It kills more than 150,000 women around the world every year.

"Ovarian cancer is rarely detected early, and because of that chemotherapy is often needed in addition to surgery," said Oleh Taratula, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "It's essential for the chemotherapy to be as effective as possible the first time it's used, and we believe this new approach should help with that."

It's known that elevated temperatures can help kill cancer cells, but heating just thecancer cells is problematic. The new system incorporates the use of iron oxidenanoparticles that can be coated with a cancer-killing drug and then heated once they are imbedded in the cancer cell.

Other features have also been developed to optimize the new system, in an unusual collaboration between engineers, material science experts and pharmaceutical researchers.
A peptide is used that helps guide the nanoparticle specifically to cancer cells, and the nanoparticle is just the right size - neither too big nor too small - so the immune system will not reject it. A special polyethylene glycol coating further adds to the "stealth" effect of the nanoparticles and keeps them from clumping up. And the interaction between the cancer drug and a polymer on the nanoparticles gets weaker in the acidic environment of cancer cells, aiding release of the drug at the right place.

"The hyperthermia, or heating of cells, is done by subjecting the magnetic nanoparticles to an oscillating, or alternating magnetic field," said Pallavi Dhagat, an associate professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and co-author on the study. "The nanoparticles absorb energy from the oscillating field and heat up."

The result, in laboratory tests with ovarian cancer cells, was that a modest dose of the chemotherapeutic drug, combined with heating the cells to about 104 degrees, killed almost all the cells and was far more effective than either the drug or heat treatment would have been by itself.

Doxorubicin (see structure), the cancer drug, by itself at the level used in these experiments would leave about 70 percent of the cancer cells alive. With the new approach, only 5 percent were still viable.

The work was published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, as a collaboration of researchers in the OSU College of Pharmacy, College of Engineering, and Ocean NanoTech of Springdale, Ark. It was supported by the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, the PhRMA Foundation and the OSU College of Pharmacy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Atorvastatin drug plus zoledronic acid may help treat toxoplasmosis

In continuation of my update on Atorvastatin and Zoledronic acid

Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that a combination of two commonly prescribed drugs used to treat high cholesterol and osteoporosis may serve as the foundation of a new treatment for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. They published their findings recently in PLOS Pathogens.
Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite capable of infecting nearly all warm-blooded animals. While healthy human adults usually suffer no lasting ill effects from infection, it can be harmful or fatal to unborn fetuses or those with weakened immune systems.

"For many years, therapies for toxoplasmosis have focused on drugs that target only the parasite," said Silvia Moreno, senior author of the article and professor of cellular biology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "But in this paper, we show how we can hit the parasite with two drugs simultaneously, one that affects body chemistry in the host and one that affects the parasite."

The UGA researchers discovered that a combination of the cholesterol lowering drugatorvastatin and osteoporosis medication zoledronic acid, both more commonly known by their respective trade names, Lipitor and Zometa, produce changes in the mammalian host and in the parasite that ultimately block parasite replication and spread of the infection.

"These two drugs have a strong synergy," said Moreno, who is also a member of UG
A's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. "The mice we treated were cured from a lethal infection using this combination approach."

Moreno and her colleagues began working on this drug combination following a series of experiments with unexpected results. They created a genetically modified version of the parasite in the laboratory that lacked a specific enzyme essential for one of the organism's most basic functions.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New clinical trial shows increased asthma control with FeNO-guided anti-inflammatory treatment

A new randomised clinical trial shows lower incidence of asthma exacerbations and increased asthma control with Fractional exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO)-guided anti-inflammatory treatment. The study has been published on the website of Journal ofAllergy and Clinical Immunology.

A total of 187 non-smoking asthma patients (18-64 years) with perennial allergy and on regular inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) treatment were recruited at 17 primary health care centres in Sweden, randomly assigned to two groups and followed for one year. One group was treated with standard of care whereas treatment of the patients in the other group were guided by FeNO. Aerocrine's patented FeNO test, with the NIOX® MINO® device was used in the study. In the standard of care group FeNO was blinded for both patient and physician.
"FeNO-guided anti-inflammatory treatment enabled the physicians to optimize the treatment with for example inhaled corticosteroids so that both over- and undertreatment can be avoided. This may be a useful tool in long-term management of patients with asthma", says Dr Jörgen Syk, General Practitioner at Runby primary care clinic, Stockholm, Sweden and being the principal investigator in the study.

Overall, FeNO-guided management resulted in improved asthma symptom control and reduced exacerbation frequency in adults with asthma. The FeNO-guided group reported almost 50% fewer asthma exacerbations without an increase in the used average dose of corticosteroids.

Although there was no difference in perceived quality of life (which was the primary endpoint of the study) between the groups, the FeNO-guided group reported fewer symptoms than the group following standard of care treatment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Research: Sunscreen provides 100% protection against skin cancer

Researchers found sunscreen provides 100 per cent protection against all three forms ofskin cancer: BCC (basal cell carcinoma); SCC (squamous cell carcinoma); and malignantmelanoma.
Lead researcher Dr Elke Hacker, from QUT's AusSun Research Lab, said sunscreen not only provided 100 per cent protection against the damage that can lead to skin cancer but it shielded the important p53 gene, a gene that works to prevent cancer.

"As soon as our skin becomes sun damaged, the p53 gene goes to work repairing that damage and thereby preventing skin cancer occurring.

"But over time if skin is burnt regularly the p53 gene mutates and can no longer do the job it was intended for - it no longer repairs sun damaged skin and without this protection skin cancers are far more likely to occur."

The study, published in the Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research journal, looked at the impact of sunlight on human skin, both with and without sunscreen, and found no evidence of UV-induced skin damage when proper application of sunscreen (SPF30+) had been applied to exposed area.

"Melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer with research showing damage of melanocytes - the pigment-producing cells of the skin - after sun exposure plays a role in the development of skin cancer," Dr Hacker said.

Dr Hacker said the study, funded by Cancer Council Queensland, involved 57 people undergoing a series of skin biopsies to determine molecular changes to the skin before and after UV exposure and with and without sunscreen.

"Firstly we took small skin biopsies of people's unexposed skin. We then exposed two skin sites to a mild burning dose of UV light, one site was applied with sunscreen and the other was not. We again took biopsies of both sites.

"After 24 hours, we took another set of biopsies and compared the skin samples.
"What we found was that, after 24 hours where the sunscreen had been applied, there were no DNA changes to the skin and no impact on the p53 gene," she said. Dr Hacker said this was a significant finding.

"In Australia we have strong standards around sunscreens and their ability to protect against erythema (redness of skin)," Dr Hacker said.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blueberries, Red Grapes May Boost Body's Immune Function

Researchers found that both fruits contain compounds called stilbenoids, which work with vitamin D to increase expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) gene, which is involved in immune function.
The stilbenoid compounds included resveratrol in red grapes and pterostilbene in blueberries.
"Out of a study of hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out," Adrian Gombart, a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, said in a university news release.
"Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing," said Gombart, an associate professor in the university's college of science. "It's a pretty interesting interaction."
Gombart and colleagues noted, however, that these findings were made in laboratory cell cultures and do not prove that eating blueberries and red grapes would boost a person's immune function.
The study was published Sept. 17 in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
The CAMP gene has been shown to play a key role in the innate immune system -- the body's first line of defense that gives it the ability to fight bacterial infection. The response is especially crucial as many antibiotics become less effective.
Previous research has found a strong association between adequate vitamin D levels and the function of the CAMP gene. This new study suggests that certain other compounds may play a role as well.

Friday, November 8, 2013

New type of antibiotic kills multidrug-resistant germ common to health care settings

A new type of antibiotic called a PPMO, which works by blocking genes essential for bacterial reproduction, successfully killed a multidrug-resistant germ common to health care settings, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report.

The technology and new approach offer potential promise against the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, the researchers said.

The pathogen (germ) - called Acinetobacter - can cause infections from pneumonia to serious blood or wound infections, posing greater risk to people with weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease, or diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Acinetobacter infection mainly affects hospitalized patients or those in long-term care facilities, such as those on ventilators or with urinary cathetersor patients treated for open wounds. The CDC considers Acinetobacter, which is resistant to many antibiotics, one of the top bacterial infection threats in the U.S.

In the study in today's Journal of Infectious Diseases, PPMOs  peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer(link for PMOs only) designed to combat two strains of Acinetobacter reduced the number of infectious bacteria in mice by more than 90 percent. Survival of infected mice also improved with the treatment. One of the targeted strains was A. baumannii, a dangerous type that accounts for about 80 percent of reported Acinetobacter infections, according to the CDC.

"We set out to target specific genes in Acinetobacter in an effort to inhibit the bacterium-s growth," said Dr. David Greenberg, assistant professor of internal medicine and microbiology and senior author of the study. "With infections from drug-resistant pathogens rising rapidly, there is an urgent need to come up with new approaches such as the use of PPMOs to spur antibiotic development."

The technology that created the synthetic PPMO could be used to develop similar antibiotics targeting other bacteria and viruses, he added.

"We believe there is a lot of promise in developing new antibiotics that target specific pathogens as opposed to so-called broad-spectrum antibiotics that target whole classes of bacteria," said Dr. Greenberg.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Can Eating Peanut Butter Cut Breast Cancer Risk in Later Life? - MedNews

Eating peanut butter regularly as a preteen and teen girl appears to decrease the risk of developing benign breast disease as an adult, new research has found.
Benign breast disease   noncancerous changes in the breast tissue   is a risk factor for breast cancer, experts agree.
The researchers followed more than 9,000 females, beginning when they were aged 9 to 15 in 1996, until 2010, when they were young women. Eating peanut butter three days a week reduced the risk of developing benign breast disease by 39 percent, said Dr. Graham Colditz, senior study author.
"I think this gives us enormous hope there are strategies we could be following to help prevent breast cancer that we haven't capitalized on yet," said Colditz, the associate director for cancer prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis.
The study, published online Sept. 17 in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, was funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Benign breast disease is fairly common, and a known risk factor for breast cancer, Colditz said. Before menopause, "about one in four women have a benign lesion, confirmed by biopsy," he said. "It's very clear there is a strong link between the benign lesion and the subsequent risk of invasive breast cancer."
Depending on the characteristics of the benign lesion, he said, benign breast disease could increase breast cancer risk by threefold.
The study participants were part of a long-term, ongoing study on the health effects of diet and exercise in young people. They filled out questionnaires about their diet annually from 1996 until 2001, then four more times until 2010. They also reported if they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease. In all, 112 women said they had.
The researchers looked at foods with vegetable protein and vegetable fats, then focused on individual foods, including peanut butter, peanuts or other nuts, beans and corn.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New drug candidate found for deadly fungal lung infections

Rappleye's team searched a library of commercially-available small molecules used by other investigators to find new antivirals or anticancer drugs. They performed a high-throughput phenotypic screen of 3,600 compounds looking for agents that inhibited fungal, but not human, cells.
To speed the selection process, Rappleye and Edwards engineered Histoplasma cells with a fluorescent protein that made the cells glow red while inside of a living macrophage -- the type of mammalian immune cell that Histoplasma attacks and in which it reproduces.
As the number of fungal cells increased inside the macrophage, so did the fluorescence and consequently, the cells would glow brighter. However, when a macrophage was exposed to an active compound that prevents Histoplasma reproduction, it maintained the same level of brightness. This allowed the scientists to quickly determine efficacy and toxicity of the drug candidate in a natural environment.
"Not only were we able to visually screen thousands of compounds in just a few weeks, but we were also able to measure the compound's impact in a real, live host cell," said Edwards.
The team narrowed down to a primary candidate called 41F5, which is 60 times more toxic to fungal cells than human cells. Their work was published in the September Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
The team is currently working with Werner Tjarks, PhD, a medicinal chemist at Ohio State, to see if the selectivity and toxicity profile can be enhanced further for additional testing. Rappleye is also working with the Ohio State's Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) to potentially commercialize the derivatives from 41F5.