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The following is a review of diagnostics related medical research worldwide

The information is updated the first week of every month - so ... make this a regular stop in your information gathering activities.

The following information has been compiled from publicly available Sources, StratCom does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or the authenticity of the information and StratCom cannot be held liable for errors.

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Research News for February 1998

Researchers lead by Dr. Cheryl A. Gale, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN have discovered that by blocking a single gene in C. albicans (INT1), they can suppress its ability to attach to and invade cells. They found that INT1 caused the normally nonadherent yeast cells to adhere to human cells. When they blocked the INT1 gene in C. albicans the organisms' abilities to grow, adhere to cells, and to cause infection were suppressed.
Source: Science (1998;279:1355-1358)

Scientists from Alpha Therapeutic Corp., Los Angeles, CA has developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing method to detect viruses in human blood plasma. Alpha, in collaboration with National Genetics Institute (NGI), has pioneered the application of PCR to detect HIV and hepatitis C virus in plasma donations.

Genzyme Transgenics Corp, Framingham, Mass and Progenics Pharmaceuticals Tarrytown, NY, have initiated a program to produce PRO 542, Progenics' lead HIV therapeutic, in the milk of transgenic animals. Following successful completion of the initial development phase, the companies expect to enter into a commercialization agreement for production of PRO 542 in the milk of transgenic goats. PRO 542 is a novel antibody-like molecule designed to selectively target HIV and prevent the virus from infecting healthy immune system cells. PRO 542 is under development both to treat HIV infection and to prevent infection following exposure to the virus. The expression of PRO 542 in the milk of transgenic animals may provide a cost effective approach to producing this product.

Hyseq, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA, has signed a collaborative agreement with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), to conduct research on genes that may have important roles in the development of arteriosclerotic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and related metabolic disorders. Ultimately, they expect these pharmacogenomic studies will allow large-scale population genetic-profiling to link optimal drug therapy to an individual's genetic make-up. Through the research contract, UCSF researchers intend to collect DNA samples, under proper patient consent procedures, from 20,000 genetically diverse individuals, including results from angiogram, ultrasound and biochemical tests, allowing a direct comparison of genetic information with clinical histories.

Researchers at Duke University, Durham, NC, have conducted studies that suggest that elevated maternal serum interleukin-6 concentrations are associated with impending preterm delivery. IL-6 in an inflammatory molecule that may be a sign of bacterial infection, say the researchers, a condition that greatly increases the risk of premature labor. The study indicates that physicians may be able to test a woman for IL-6 to determine her risk of going into premature labor. About 1 out of 10 US infants are born prematurely, greatly increasing their risk of complications and death.
Source: Obstetrics & Gynecology (1998;91:161-164)

Cardiologists at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, have shown that low levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Source: Circulation (February, 1998;97)

Researchers at the State University of New York, Buffalo, NY have identified a protein essential to iron uptake. They suggest Nramp2 is the first known mammalian iron transporter to be characterized that helps deliver iron to mitochondria. Nramp2 may also play a role in reducing the excess buildup of iron within the body, a condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and heart damage. The researchers say a previous study suggests that Nramp2 may also aid in the intracellular transport of other elements, including manganese, cobalt, and zinc. researchers say.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1998;95:1148-1153)

A study has shown that urine dipsticks may not be adequate for testing for bacteria in the urine of asymptomatic pregnant women. The study found that the sticks often did not detect bacteria in the urine of pregnant women, who were found to have significant levels of bacteria in their urine on lab culture. Given their findings, the researchers advocate that all patients should have at least one urine specimen formally cultured (in the laboratory) in early pregnancy to exclude bacteriuria.
Source: British Medical Journal (1998;316:19-21)

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