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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 June 1999

Researchers are studying brain-cell transplants to help treat some Parkinson's patients. But the source of those cells is problematic. Getting them from aborted fetuses is controversial, and taking cells from animals raises concern about introducing new diseases into people.

The new work focuses on brain cells called neural stem cells. These cells, which can be grown in batches in the lab, can give rise to a variety of specialized brain cell types and scientists are studying how to control that process to produce the kinds of cells they want.

In a study, reported in the July 1999 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Harvard Medical School, said they were able to produce brain cells that pump out the chemical dopamine, and that's the kind of cell that is transplanted in Parkinson's disease.

Researchers at the University of Miami have been experimenting with dosages of a new drug, anti-CD154, (manufactured by Biogen) which they say, if used in combination with transplants of insulin-producing cells could eventually free diabetics from their daily regimen of insulin injections and blood glucose tests. In preliminary tests, the drug enabled six diabetic monkeys to stop insulin therapy when used together with transplants of islet cells. Islet cells produce insulin in the pancreas gland, and insulin controls blood-sugar levels. The cells' function improved each month the monkeys received anti-CD154. Three of the animals that have lived for a year since the transplants no longer require the drug or insulin. The other three will be taken off anti-CD154 when they reach the one-year mark. Experimental human trials are expected to begin soon.

Clinical researchers at Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden) and Eurona Medical AB, a Swedish pharmacogenomics company, are developing the ACE Inhibitor Responder Assay, a genetic test used to predict individual patient responses to ACE inhibitors, a major class of drugs commonly prescribed for the treatment of hypertension. Using the test they have established a pattern of genetic variation in an enzyme pathway that can be used to predict blood pressure response to treatment with ACE inhibitors.

Eurona is developing its ACE Inhibitor Responder Assay to allow physicians to tailor anti-hypertensive drug treatments based on a patient's genetic makeup. The assay may significantly decrease the time at risk for patients with hypertension, as well as reduce the number of drugs needed to achieve target blood pressure in these patients.

In June, a female patient at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, became one of the first patients to receive a direct injection of DNA in an attempt to grow new blood vessels in her ailing heart, (myocardial angiogenesis). It is hoped that gene therapy to release vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF2) will become a routine treatment resulting in the growth of new blood vessels in the heart and thereby improving heart blood flow in patients with severe heart disease who cannot be treated successfully through more traditional methods. This and other gene therapy trials are, in part, a direct result of National Institutes of Health (NIH) emphasis on gene therapy research. This research is sponsored by Vascular Genetics Inc, Human Genome Sciences, Inc., of Rockville, Md.; and St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston.

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