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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 October 1998

Reporting in the Oct. 2 issue of Science, researchers have identified granulysin, the body's own antibiotic which can fight bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites and maybe cancer. Stanford immunology researcher Alan Krensky has identified granulysin the immune system's own antibacterial protein in two of the body's pathogen-wasting cells - cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer cells (NKs). He also discovered that granulysin does pathogen-cleansing work by a combination of three mechanisms : the protein induces the fatty acid ceramide, a known inducer of cell killing, it activates the caspase enzymes, which in turn activate apoptosis - programmed cell death and it directly damages lipid membranes by deforming their surface. In five in vitro experiments, M. tuberculosis strains were incubated with escalating dosages of recombinant granulysin. It killed up to 90 percent of the bacteria within 72 hours. It is expected that granulysin can be used against other microbes which live in intracellular compartments, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas' disease in South America, Staphylococcus aureus (toxic shock), Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli (both food poisoning).

Researchers in California supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have completed sequencing the Chlamydia trachomatis genome. This project was a collaborative effort between scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at San Francisco, and the DNA Sequencing and Technology Center at Stanford University. Richard S. Stephens, Ph.D., M.P.H., primary investigator of the project, led the microbiology team at the University of California at Berkeley, and Ronald Davis, Ph.D., led the sequencing effort at Stanford. The sequenced genome has already been entered into a new on-line database, the STD Relational Database ( http://www.stdgen.lanl.gov), funded by NIAID and designed to accelerate research on STDs.
Source: Science, Oct. 23, 1998

Dr. Patrick L. McGeer and colleagues, of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver have discovered that complement proteins are produced in the human heart, and activation of the complement system is directly involved in damage to cardiomyocytes following MI. In autopsy studies on heart tissue from 12 patients, 25 to 94 years of age, including five patients who had heart disease, they found that mRNA for all complement proteins were expressed endogenously in the heart tissues. The levels of complement proteins were significantly higher in infarcted areas of the heart than in normal areas, the research team observed, and they were higher in the heart tissues than is typical in liver. The team suggests that the heart itself, and not liver, is the source of the complement proteins found in damaged tissue.
Source: Circulation Research, October 19, 1998

Research conducted at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC has found that, once in the body, HIV can evolve in different ways in the blood and semen, so that genetically different strains of the virus can be found in a single individual. The researchers suggest that part of the reason may be that the antiretroviral drugs used to fight HIV effectively combat virus in the blood, but are less effective at suppressing virus found in the genital tract. Incomplete suppression of the virus in the genital tract may promote formation of drug-resistant strains of virus.
Source: AIDS, October 1998, 12:7397-7404.

A report in the October 23 issue of Science showed that researchers have unveiled an updated map of the human genome that now includes about 50% of the human genome. The map was also presented on the Internet at www.ncbi.nlm.gov/genemap. The new map also includes most of the genes that encode the instructions that direct the body to make essential proteins. The revised map incorporates the latest findings from the Human Genome Project.

Researchers at the University of South Florida, Tampa have shown that melanoma staging with a molecular assay is more accurate than routine examination by a pathologist because the molecular assay can detect submicroscopic disease. They studied 114 patients with malignant melanoma who had no palpable lymph nodes or distant metastases. Biopsied lymph nopdes were evaluated using routine microscopic methods, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), to detect messenger RNA for the tyrosinase gene, which is expressed by most melanoma cells. The team used RT-PCR to detect messenger RNA for the tyrosinase gene, which is expressed by most melanoma cells. They found that RT-PCR assay has the potential of identifying a group of patients who are at a low risk of recurrence and death, and these patients can be spared further surgery and/or adjuvant therapy. Among 400 patients enrolled to date in a follow-up study, preliminary data show that RT-PCR results correlate well with tumor thickness and the researchers feel this will be the way all cancers will be staged in the future.
Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association, October 28, 1998;280:1410-1415.

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