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Researchers at Case Western Reserve University
School of Medicine, Cleveland, Oh and Athersys, Inc. have developed
the first artificial human chromosomes. The synthetic chromosomes
produced in the study, published in the April issue of Nature
Genetics, represent a breakthrough in medical research and provide
scientists with a powerful new tool for the study of human genetics.
Artificial chromosomes may also offer a new approach to gene therapy
and the treatment of a broad range of genetic diseases. The chromosomes
were created from normal human material using a bottom-up, combinatorial
approach. For information: George Stamatis, Director, Public Affairs,
of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 216-368-3635,
or Gil Van Bokkelen, Ph.D., or John Harrington, Ph.D., of Athersys,
Northfield Laboratories Inc. has begun Phase
III trials of its blood substitute, PolyHeme. Surgical
patients will be infused with six units of PolyHeme, Northfield's
proprietary blood substitute. The six-unit level (3 liters containing
300 grams of hemoglobin) represents approximately 60% of an adult's
entire blood volume.
A group of Indiana and Ohio clinicians have
shown that close monitoring of blood glucose during initiation
of clozapine treatment for refractory psychosis is warranted
in patients with diabetes or a family history of diabetes.
Source: The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 1997;58:108-111.
Spanish investigators have reported that elevated
levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in pleural effusions
is not a fail-safe marker of malignancy. They found elevated levels
CEA, above 10 ng/mL, in 47% of pleural effusions from patients
with malignancy. They also found high levels of CEA in 9% of pleural
effusions from patients with benign disease.
Source: Chest 1997;111:643-647.
The US NIH is urging doctors to offer genetic cystic fibrosis tests to everyone considering having a baby. It was the first time a panel such as this has backed population-wide testing for a genetic disease. Other genetic tests are recommended for people known to be at high risk for a specific inherited disease such as Tay-Sachs.
The gene was discovered in 1989. The test is
already commercially available, and costs $50 to $150. CF is
more common among Caucasians of Northern European descent and
Jews of East European origin than among blacks and Asians.
Research has shown that the baseline plasma
concentration of C-reactive protein predicts the risk of
future myocardial infarction and stroke. In addition, the ability
of aspirin to reduce the risk of first myocardial infarction appears
to be directly related to the level of C-reactive protein. Baseline
C-reactive protein levels were higher in patients who later developed
myocardial infarction or ischemic stroke, but not venous thrombosis,
compared with levels in those who did not experience vascular
Source: New England Journal of Medicine 1997;336:973-979,1014-1015.
CRP can also
predict disease progression in women with early knee osteoarthritis.
Research data demonstrate that a low-grade acute-phase inflammatory
response in early osteoarthritis is associated with progression
of radiologic disease, especially cartilage loss.
Source Arthritis & Rheumatism 1997;40:723-727.
Israeli researchers have shown that urine
samples collected from a disposable diaper is as reliable
a technique for diagnosing urinary tract infection in infants
as suprapubic aspiration and catheterization. Urine cultures obtained
from diaper samples were in agreement with those obtained by suprapubic
aspiration or catheterization in 95% of cases.
Source: The Journal of Family Practice 1997;44:290-292.
Swedish researchers report that C-reactive
protein determination is a better indicator of infectious
endocarditis than erythrocyte sedimentation rate, leukocyte count,
and thrombocyte count. A study of 89 patients with infectious
endocarditis showed that C-reactive protein levels were normal
in only 4% of patients and normal results were obtained for sedimentation
rates in 28% of these patients, for leukocyte counts - 36%, and
for thrombocyte counts - 56%.
Source: Infection 1997;25:82-85.
An elevated level of free testosterone
in women may be a risk factor for coronary atherosclerosis. Sex
hormone levels were measured in 60 postmenopausal women who underwent
coronary angiography. Multiple regression analysis with the degree
of coronary artery disease showed that free testosterone and cholesterol
were significantly related to the degree of coronary artery disease.
Source: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 1997;17:695-701.
Serum carboxyterminal propeptide of type 1
procollagen (P1CP) appears to be a useful tool for predicting
bone metastases in prostate cancer patients. Investigators
at Urawa and Keio University observed that serum levels of P1CP
and alkaline phosphatase were significantly elevated in patients
who had positive bone scans compared with negative scans.
Source: Journal of Urology 1997;157:1736-1739.
A multidrug-resistant strain of Salmonella
-- serotype typhimurium,(DT104), which can be transmitted
from animals to humans, has recently been identified in the US.
Investigators at the CDC report that S. typhimurium was the second
most commonly reported Salmonella serotype in 1995. The DT 104
isolate is resistant to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin,
sulfonamides, and tetracycline. Resistance to fluoroquinolones
has not yet been observed in the US.
Source: the CDC MMW Report 1997;45:308-309.
Clinical research indicates that peripheral
blood stem cell transplantation is associated with a faster
hematologic recovery, in patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy
for solid tumors or lymphomas, compared with autologous bone marrow
transplantation, and provides better cost-effectiveness ratios.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine 1997;126:600-607.
US tests have shown that the FiltraCheck-UTI
by Meridian Diagnostics, Inc., a rapid calorimetric filter method
for the detection of urinary tract infections in children has
a relatively high cost and low specificity. The study concludes
that the urine dipstick and conventional urinalysis is the best
approach to detect UTI in children aged 2 days to 19 years.
Source: Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal 1997;16:283-287.
Chlamydia pneumoniae is
now recognized as a cause of about 10 percent of community-acquired
pneumonia, with the highest incidence among the elderly. Research
data showed high attack rates among confirmed and suspected cases
in the three nursing homes, ranging from 44 to 68 percent. The
most common manifestations included new cough, fever, sore throat,
and hoarseness. The staff at one nursing home had an attack rate
of 34 percent.
Source: JAMA 1997 Apr 16; 277:1214-8.
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