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A report in the June 11 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that elevated serum levels of homocysteine may be as great a risk factor for vascular disease as smoking or hyperlipidemia. The data was collected by Dr. Ian A. Graham of The Adelaide Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, and members of the 19-center European Concerted Action Project. The researchers measured levels of plasma total homocysteine while patients were fasting. They found that subjects with homocysteine levels in the top fifth of the control distribution had a 2-fold increase in vascular disease risk compared with the remaining four fifths.
Levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) may help
doctors determine which people are susceptible to complications
after a heart attack. ACE helps regulate blood pressure and heart
function. Researchers in the Netherlands and Germany recently
reported that after one year, the patients with the highest ACE
levels after their heart attacks still had the highest risk for
heart enlargement. Elevated plasma ACE activity determined shortly
after the onset of heart attack may identify patients at risk.
Source: Circulation 1997;95
Environmental exposures, specifically during fetal life, have a stronger effect than genetics on the induction of islet cell autoimmune antibodies, according to a report in the May 31 issue of the British Medical Journal. A multinational team looked for islet cell autoantibodies in 18 pairs of monozygotic and 36 pairs of dizygotic twins with one or both twins having insulin dependent diabetes. The prevalence of autoantibodies was 70% in the nondiabetic monozygotic twins, which is much higher than the 5% to 15% prevalence observed in first-degree relatives of diabetic patients. The researchers concluded that the presence of islet cell autoimmunity is probably determined by environmental rather than genetic factors.
Studies funded by Integ Incorporated, St Paul, Minn confirmed that interstitial fluid can be used as an alternative, bloodless method for measuring glucose. The studies conducted at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and the University of Minnesota, Minn., found that glucose levels in ISF correlate with glucose levels in blood samples taken from fingertips and veins. These findings support the development of a less-invasive glucose measurement technology, using ISF from skin, for people with diabetes.
The herpes virus associated with Kaposi's sarcoma in patients
with HIV infection may also play a causative role in the development
of multiple myeloma. Researchers examined the bone marrow cells
from 15 patients with multiple myeloma, 16 patients with other
malignancies, and 10 healthy control subjects. They detected KSHV
in the bone marrow dendritic cells of all of the patients with
multiple myeloma and no evidence of KSHV in any of the other subjects.
The report concludes that "For the first time we have a
link between multiple myeloma and a virus."
Source: Science June 20 1997
Incyte Pharmaceuticals, Palo Alto has completed the initial phase of sequencing Candida albicans. Incyte's bioanalysis of the Candida albicans genome has identified over 6,000 potential genes representing nearly 35 times the number of Candida albicans genes currently available in the public domain. Candida albicans has become the most important opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans affecting millions worldwide. It is the fourth leading cause of nosocomial infectious disease and can become life-threatening in patients who become immunocompromised because of certain types of malignancy, bone marrow transplantation, or treatment with immunosuppressant drugs. The majority of AIDS patients have mucosal candidiasis which can develop into life-threatening disseminated forms of the disease.
Low and high serum insulin levels are both independent risk factors for carotid atherosclerosis. The June issue of Stroke reports the results of the Bruneck Study, a cross-sectional, prospective study of atherosclerosis risk factors that was carried out in the town of Bruneck in northeastern Italy in 1990. The results of the study provide first evidence that both hypoinsulinemia and hyperinsulinemia are conditions of increased carotid atherosclerosis risk>
A study supporting the use of HER-2/neu gene amplification as a molecular marker in the evaluation of patients with prostate cancer has been published in the June issue of Cancer. The prostate cancer study, conducted at the Albany Medical College's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine demonstrated that HER-2/neu gene amplification significantly correlated with tumor grade and DNA ploidy status and was more sensitive than the antibody method in detecting HER-2/neu gene abnormalities. Further, it was shown to predict disease recurrence and may prove important in planning therapy for prostate cancer patients.
Sputum samples may provide more accurate information about
the anti-inflammatory effects of acute asthma therapy than blood
samples or symptom monitoring. Research performed at St. Joseph's
Hospital and McMaster University's Asthma Research Group in Hamilton,
Ontario, compared inflammatory indices in blood samples with those
in sputum, They found that the proportion of cells and the concentration
of the serum markers were lower in blood than in sputum.
Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, May 1997;155
Dutch researchers have found that a polymorphism in the tissue
plasminogen activator (TPA) gene may predispose individuals
to myocardial infarction. The group studied 121 patients with
a prior history of myocardial infarction and 250 controls and
measured TPA antigen and activity in plasma from each subject.
They also genotyped all subjects for the Alu repeat insertion/deletion
polymorphism in intron h in the TPA gene. Subjects who were homozygous
for the insertion polymorphism were twice as likely to have a
history of MI compared with subjects who were homozygous for the
Alu deletion. In addition, those in the lowest quartile for TPA
antigen were also about twofold more likely to have a history
of MI compared with subjects in the remaining three quartiles,
although the increased risk appeared to be confounded by other
MI risk factors. Finally, the researchers noted a trend toward
increased risk of MI with increasing TPA activity.
Source: Circulation 1997;95:2623-2627.
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