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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 September 1996

Artificial blood to be used on humans
The US FDA has approved the first large-scale study of a potential blood substitute, HemAssist, and is considering allowing a similar study of Northfield's PolyHeme. Emergency rooms at Cook County Hospital, Chicago and 20 other emergency rooms in the US will begin the first mass testing of a potential substitute for human blood on 850 patients. Both substitutes are made from outdated blood units.

Glucose control in IDDM patients and atherosclerosis
A September article in Diabetes, indicated better glucose control in patients with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) slows the development of atherosclerosis. Dr. Kerstin J. Jensen-Urstad of Stockholm, Sweden followed 59 diabetics for 12 years. Thirty-one patients had received intensified insulin treatment and 28 had received standard insulin treatment. Blood glucose control as measured by glycosylated hemoglobin levels was significantly better among patients who received intensified insulin treatment. In addition, the patients in the standard therapy]group had stiffer arteries and thicker intima-media in the left common carotid artery than those in the intensified group.

Infections common with home infusion
According to a report in the September Pediatric News, nosocomial infections are spreading into the home setting. A recent Centers for Disease Control investigation reported there is a 10-fold increase in bloodstream infections related to home infusion therapy in one particular area over several months. The risk was a highly significant 8.10 infections per 1,000 infusion days.

Bone marker concentration seasonal
A study of biomarkers of bone formation collected from 500 healthy individuals shows that bone turnover accelerates during the winter months, while bone formation speeds up during the summer. Dr. H. W. Woitge of the University of Heidelberg has found that levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D are lowest during the winter months. In some cases, Dr. Woitge saw as much as a 30% difference in levels of the vitamin between summer's high point and winter's low point.

CD44 Isoforms linked to ovarian cancer
Reporting in the September issue of the Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation Dr. Douglas D. Taylor, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky, the detection of CD44 isoforms in ascitic fluid or sera in women with gynecological cancers, may be a diagnostic or prognostic marker. Dr. Taylor reports that ovarian tumor lines analyzed by flow cytometry were, highly positive for CD44. The ability to measure CD44 variant isoforms in the ascites or peripheral circulation may serve as a diagnostic and/or prognostic marker for gynecological tumors, he reported. The analysis of materials from various stages of disease must be evaluated before this conclusion can be firmly established, he added.

Lipoproteins predict heart disease
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Sept 20) by Andrew Bostom, Framingham Study in Framingham, Mass reported on a long-term ongoing research project that began in 1948 and followed a group of individuals and their families and tracked the cardiovascular history of men between the ages of 20 and 54. It found that those with elevated lipoprotein levels were almost twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease prematurely, or before the age of 55, compared to men without elevated levels. The higher levels corresponded to a risk factor for developing heart disease for men who also had total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL of blood.

Gene for colon cancer found
Drs. Liliana Attisano and Jeff Wrana, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, have discovered a gene implicated in the development of colon cancer. The gene, MADR2, is located on chromosome 18 in a section that is also involved in the development of other human malignancies, such as pancreatic cancer. MADR2 produces a protein important for conducting signals that govern cell growth. When MADR2 is functioning normally it acts as a tumor suppressor. However, a defective MADR2 gene prevents cells from receiving the growth regulating signal.

Oral insulin trial findings
Cortecs International, London, UK announced preliminary findings of the first study with six human volunteers in a placebo-controlled cross-over trial. Fasting healthy human volunteers have been dosed with an oral insulin formulation via a tube into the small intestine. At a dose of 200 IU, plasma insulin levels were higher than those observed after administration of a placebo. Subsequent studies will be of similar design, but using tablets so that the efficiency of the final delivery system can be observed. If the results of these studies are satisfactory, single dose studies will be performed in patients with diabetes.

CMV linked to atherosclerosis
Reporting in the September issue of Circulation, Dr. F. Javier Nieto, Johns Hopkins University indicated that CMV infection appears to increase the risk of carotid artery wall thickening, a measure of subclinical atherosclerosis. As part of the NIH-funded Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, 150 individuals with elevated carotid intimal-medial thickness were identified by ultrasound examination. They were matched to 150 controls with normal carotid arteries, and CMV antibody titers were determined in blood samples that had been obtained in 1974 and frozen. Analysis showed a graded relationship between the level of CMV antibody and intimal-medial thickness.

D-dimer and stroke
Dr. Richard L. Harvey of the Rehabilitation Institute, Chicago, reported in the September issue of Stroke that he and his colleagues drew plasma samples from 105 nonambulatory rehabilitation patients with recent ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke and assayed for D-dimer. According to Dr. Harvey, 14 patients had deep vein thrombosis identified by ultrasound. Only the D-dimer level had, significant ability to discriminate between patients with or without deep vein thrombosis. A D-dimer level less than or equal 1092 ng/mL can exclude the presence of deep vein thrombosis in stroke rehabilitation patients. D-dimer levels greater than 1092 ng/mL indicates the possibility of DVT.

Vancomycin resistance staphlococci detected
Dade International announced its MicroScan Automated Microbiology Testing System has identified a blood culture isolate of Staph. epidermidis that demonstrated decreased susceptibility to the antibiotic vancomycin.

FISH to impact cytogenetics
Scientists at the NIH and at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, U.K., have collaborated to identify a complete set of so-called "FISH" or fluorescence in situ hybridization DNA probes that can be used to test the integrity of the telomeric region of each human chromosome. This important since a high concentration of genes and a number of candidate genes for recognizable syndromes are known to be present in telomeric regions. However, that, the human telomeric regions represent a major diagnostic challenge because cryptic deletions and translocations in the telomeric regions are difficult to detect by conventional cytogenetic methods.

Low neutrophil count suggests penicillin-resistant infection
In children with invasive pneumococcal infection, a relatively low absolute neutrophil count may be an early tip-off that the pathogen is penicillin resistant. This finding, published in Archives of Pediatric Medicine comes from a retrospective study by Dr. Julian B. Orenstein of George Washington University, Washington, D.C., that identified 53 patients under 18 years old with invasive Strep pneumoniae infections at a community hospital during a 28-month period. Of the strains identified, 21% were penicillin-resistant and 4% were highly resistant. Analysis showed that antibiotic therapy within the previous month and an absolute neutrophil count of less than 15,000 were associated with penicillin-resistant pneumococci. These two factors were predictive of 63% of the resistant strains and 92% of the sensitive strains.

Oncor test aids molecular staging of cancer
Oncor, Inc. announced that investigators at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, using a recently developed molecular test, have detected genetic mutations specific to cancer in blood samples of patients with head and neck cancer. Their findings are reported in the September issue of Nature Medicine. Although quite preliminary, these findings are interesting, because the presence of DNA alterations in the blood appears to be associated with large, advanced tumors and with cancer that has spread. The test does not appear useful as a screening test for cancer, but it might be helpful in identifying patients with a very poor prognosis who may benefit from aggressive therapy.

RSV found in adult respiratory infection
US health officials are encouraging physicians to consider respiratory syncytial virus in adults who present with pneumonia-like symptoms. Writing in the Sept. of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Scott F. Dowell, CDC indicated 57 of 1,585 adults recently hospitalized in Ohio with an admitting diagnosis of pneumonia were later found to be infected with respiratory syncytial virus.

Saliva can measure hormones
Saliva tests for estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol can determine baseline hormone levels to determine type and amount of hormones women may require. It also evaluates absorption and adequacy of prescribed natural hormone replacement therapy, and monitors and maintains patient hormone levels to avoid under or overdosing. The tests are performed at Aeron LifeCycles, San Leandro, Calif.

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Last modified: October 03, 1996