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Canadian researchers lead by Dr. John Dick of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children have identified stem cells in mouse animal studies. The discovery opens the way to more effective gene therapy for blood diseases. By pinpointing stem cells, researchers can test how they can go wrong and find a way to target them. The team's finding could lead to more effective gene therapy for inherited blood diseases such as leukemia, thallassemia and sickle cell anemia.
Scientists at the Autonoma University of Barcelona have found that screening for markers of bone alkaline phosphatase in addition to PSA may improve the diagnosis of bone disease in patients with prostate cancer. They measured serum concentrations of bone alkaline phosphatase and PSA in 140 patients newly diagnosed with prostate. They found that PSA is the most useful marker for prostate carcinoma and bone alkaline phosphatase concentration is a more efficient marker than PSA for the diagnosis of bone metastases. Source: Cancer 1996;78:2374-2378.
Researchers at New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston have identified a marker that predicts if a person with colon cancer is likely to respond to treatment. Known as "deleted in colorectal cancer" (DCC) is part of the 18th chromosome found in virtually all cells in the body. They found that conventional treatments tended to work best when a patient had the normal two copies of DCC in each cell. People with moderately advanced colorectal cancer, the five-year survival rate was 94% for people with two copies of DCC, but 62% for those with one DCC copy missing. Source: New England Medical Journal, Dec 1996.
At the University of Alabama, Birmingham, scientists have found that in pregnant women, high plasma ferritin levels may be a useful marker of intrauterine infection and risk for preterm delivery. They studied plasma ferritin and hematocrit values in pregnant women at 19, 26, and 36 weeks gestation. Intrauterine tend to be asymptomatic and have been identified as the cause of prenatal risk. The team found that high plasma ferritin may be a very specific marker for intrauterine infection in an otherwise healthy pregnant woman and may be used to identify women at risk. Source: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 1996;175:1356-1359.
Dr. Thomas L. McDonald, University of Nebraska Medical Center in collaboration with Research Corporation Technologies, Tucson, AZ. has invented a test that can identify kidney disease in the early stages. The test identifies the presence of nephropathy-related protein (NR-protein) in the urine of patients.
Researchers at the University of Barcelona have found that the presence of the apo E4 isoform of the apolipoprotein E gene is a risk factor for gallstones. They analyzed apo E phenotypes in 160 patients with gallstones and 125 without. The E4/3 phenotype in patients with gallstones contained significantly higher [epsilon]-4 allele frequencies than in gallstone-free patients. The group concluded that the findings help refocus attention on the interrelationships between genetic factors, cholesterol metabolism and gallstone formation. Source: Gastroenterology 1996;111:1603-1610,1764-1767.
A group of researchers at the Osaka University Medical School, Osaka has developed an easy and accurate blood test for leukemia diagnosis. They used RT-PCR to detect the presence of the WT-1 gene, which appears in large quantities in cells affected by leukemia. The test enables detection of even a single white blood cell with WT-1 among 100,000 WBCs.
Tests for Helicobacter pylori have revealed a high prevalence of the organism in saliva, a finding which suggests that the oral-oral route plays a significant role in transmission of infection. Researchers at the VA Medical Center in Johnson City, Tennessee used PCR to detect H. pylori in 88 gastric biopsy, 85 saliva, and 71 fecal specimens. In saliva specimens, H. pylori DNA was identified in 57 of the 68 patients with proven gastric H. pylori infection and in three of the 17 patients without gastric H. pylori infection. They conclude that it is likely that the oral-oral route is a prominent method of H. pylori transmission. Source: Digestive Diseases and Sciences 1996;41:2142-2149 - November.
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