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Researchers of the National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD, have identified another HIV genetic variation that appears to slow disease progression in patients with HIV-1 infection. Individuals who have a mutation located on the stromal-derived factor (SDF-1), which is the principal binding partner for the HIV-1 coreceptor CXCR4, a molecule involved in HIV-1 infection, appear to have a slower course of infection. And this protective effect is even stronger than that expressed by previously identified CCR5 receptor variants, a large multicenter group reports. The protective effect the SDF-1 mutation was increasingly pronounced in individuals infected with HIV-1 for longer periods, they report. The researchers estimate that this SDF-1 homozygous mutation occurs in a relatively low percentage of the population -- and only 5% of the study participants had this mutation. However, they believe that the regulatory region of SDF-1 offers an attractive opportunity for therapeutics that could mimic the action of the variation, that is, a potentially new approach to treating patients with HIV-1 infection.
Source: Science (1998;279:327, 389-392)
Aurora Biosciences Corp., San Diego, CA has announced the development of the beta-lactamase reporter system. The beta-lactamase reporter system is an advance over existing, well-established reporter genes, such as chloramphenicol acetyltransferase or luciferase, because it provides extremely sensitive readouts from single living human cells. Many important genes are expressed only at low levels and can be difficult or impossible to study with previous reporters. Changes in gene expression can be visualized by a change from green to blue fluorescence in the living cell.
Source: Science, Vol. 279, Jan. 2, 1998
An international team of researchers has discovered most of the genes in the cardiovascular system. The team of researchers from the Banting Institute at the University of Toronto, the Center for Cardiovascular Research of The Toronto Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the China National Center for Biotechnology Development in Beijing, China, has now identified as much as 80 percent of the genes active in the cardiovascular system. This is the most comprehensive analysis of cardiovascular genes done to date and it has created one of the largest existing databases for study of the normal cardiovascular system or on conditions such as coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, and heart failure. The cardiovascular gene project received major funding from Spectral Diagnostics, Toronto and additional support from the Canadian Genome Analysis and Technology Program, the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Medical Research Council of Canada.
Source: Circulation, December 16, 1997
Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) has released the results of the Thrombosis Prevention Trial, a study of more, than 5,000 middle-aged men at high risk of heart disease indicates that two important drugs used in preventing harmful blood clots -- Bayer Aspirin and Coumadin -- when taken together can reduce the risk of a first heart attack by one-third. While aspirin and Coumadin are currently used in preventing heart attack recurrence, neither are presently approved for preventing a first heart attack. Furthermore, the use of Coumadin and aspirin together has been avoided until recently based on fear of increased bleeding risk. The novel dosing regimen involving low intensity Coumadin in combination with low-dose aspirin resulted in a reduction of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks by about 35 per cent.
Source: The Lancet, Jan 23, 1998
Researchers at the University of Newcastle Dental School, England have found increasing evidence of a link between gum and heart disease. An interaction between specific bacteria in dental plaque and platelets has been suggested as contributing towards the association between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. There is a lot of evidence indicating that chronic infections may be an important trigger for atheroma formation and periodontal disease can be considered as a chronic infection, they explained.
Source: British Dental Journal, Jan 12, 1998
Research is showing that transfusion triggers may be set too high and that some patients may be able to tolerate relatively low blood hemoglobin levels without the need for blood transfusions. This would mean that not every patient should receive blood whenever his or her hemoglobin level fell below the traditional transfusion trigger. Current studies have found that 55.6% of patients with trigger hemoglobin levels between 80 and 100 g/L received a transfusion, compared with 90.5% of patients with trigger levels below 80 g/L. But in neither group did postoperative transfusions have any impact on 30- or 90-day mortality.
Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan 12, 1998
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