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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 March 1999

An experimental cancer test, developed at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., for people undergoing surgery for melanoma is reported to reveal whether deadly traces of the tumor have already spread to other parts of the body. The test detects the protein, tumor antigen 90, or TA-90 by using a blood test that checks for antibodies to TA-90. If the protein is present, the sample turns yellow. If TA-90 shows up after the cancer has been surgically removed, it means the cancer probably still exists somewhere else in the body.

Researchers at Northwest Hospital, Seattle, Wash, have put forth evidence that use of the complexed cPSA test can provide a more accurate blood test for prostate cancer and can reduce the number of false positives and unnecessary biopsies associated with the total PSA blood test. The cPSA test works by detecting molecules in the blood that are more specific to prostate cancer alone. The new cPSA test also reduces the cost of diagnosis by requiring that only a single analyte be tested. Measuring the free-to-total PSA, which also enhances prostate cancer detection, is more expensive because it requires comparison of two analytes, free PSA and total PSA levels. The total PSA blood test commonly used for prostate cancer screening does not differentiate among various forms of prostate antigens, making it less specific as a prostate cancer diagnostic tool. The cPSA test used in the research is the Bayer Immuno 1 cPSA Assay, FDA approved for prostate cancer monitoring in May 1998.

Genetic susceptibility has long been recognized as a risk factor in the development of several types of cancer, including melanoma. Researchers at the Division of Dermatology, University of Washington, Seattle, have isolated a melanoma susceptibility gene, p16, linked to hereditary melanoma. The protein product of p16 acts as a classical tumor suppressor, limiting the growth and new formation of developing tumor cells. When the gene carries a mutation, the protein product is either partially or completely nonfunctional. The isolation and identification of p16 opens the door for the possibility of developing a reliable genetic screening test to assess future melanoma risk in patients who have either had previous melanomas or a family history of melanoma.

Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has cloned a gene that can suppress diet-induced obesity in mice. The gene may have strong implications in developing therapies and diagnostics to intervene in human obesity. Millennium has identified a gene, called mahogany (mg), which produces a protein (MG) in many tissues of the body, its activity in a specific region of the brain's hypothalamus is particularly interesting because of that region's role in body weight regulation. The company's research has shown that mice with a mutation in their mg gene maintain a healthy weight whether they eat a high fat or low fat diet with the same amount of calories. In contrast, mice with a normal mg gene gain excess weight on the high fat diet.
Source: Nature, March 11, 1999

Researchers from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, UK, have found that bladder cancer patients have high levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which stimulates the growth of blood vessels that are essential for cancerous tumours. They believe that measuring urine VEGF levels could be a simple, quick and safe screening test for the disease. Their research that the level of urine VEGF seemed to correspond with the likelihood of the illness recurring after treatment.
Source: Journal of Urology, March 1999

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