Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stem-Cell Breakthrough

It's a chilling thought. In the coming year, 130,000 people worldwide will suffer spinal-cord injuries—in a car crash, perhaps, or a fall. More than 90 percent of them will endure at least partial paralysis. There is no cure. But after a decade of hype and controversy over research on embryonic stem cells—cells that could, among other things, potentially repair injured spinal cords—the world's first clinical trial is about to begin. As early as this month, the first of 10 newly injured Americans, paralyzed from the waist down, will become participants in a study to assess the safety of a conservative, low-dose treatment. If all goes well, researchers will have taken a promising step toward a goal that once would have been considered a miracle—to help the lame walk.

The trial signals a new energy permeating the field of stem-cell research. More than 3,000 scientists recently met in Barcelona for the annual conference of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, compared with just 600 researchers five years ago. Money from major pharmaceutical companies is following the advances. Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, now a partner in the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has thrown his weight behind the research. In April, the firm joined with Highland Capital Partners to invest $20 million in iZumi Bio (now iPierian), a startup firm working on stem-cell therapies.
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Living Band-Aid Beats Like A Heart

Jordan Lancaster and Steven Goldman, researchers from the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration and the University of Arizona, put rat heart cells on a piece of synthetic mesh and within a few days, it started beating. The hope is that down the road the patch of cells could be used to treat damaged hearts.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care Stories

We really need to fix the health care "system". I spent years as a Management Engineer conducting operational studies in large medical centers and there is huge room for improvement and cost reduction without adversely affecting care. -- Bill

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Obesity Drug Shows Promise in Tests

Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. said its obesity-drug candidate Contrave met its main goals in three late-stage clinical trials, and also surpassed a Food and Drug Administration requirement for effectiveness. Patients who took Contrave had significantly greater weight loss than those who took a placebo, and the drug reduced other risk factors like waist circumference, the company said. For diabetes patients, the drug also diminished blood sugar levels.

In the two trials with non-diabetes patients, Orexigen said 48 percent and 56.3 percent of patients, respectively, reported weight loss of at least 5 percent. That compared to 16.4 percent and 17.1 percent for the placebo patients. That more than met FDA testing guidelines that require at least a third of patients must lose at least 5 percent of their body weight. At least twice as many patients must reach the 5 percent goal compared with those who take a placebo.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

New Rankings of the Best U.S. Hospitals

U.S. News & World Report has released its annual "honor roll" of America's best medical centers, and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is at the top of the list for the 19th straight year. The top 21 hospitals all earned high scores in at least six of 16 specialties, ranging from cancer and geriatric care to orthopaedics and urology.

Scores were based on both objective measures -- such as mortality rates, patient safety, and other care-related factors -- and subjective measures, such as reputation. "I think these rankings are extremely meaningful to an extremely small number of patients, relatively speaking, who represent a very small piece of the patient population but whose need for a very high quality of care is extreme," Avery Comarow, the U.S. News & World Report statistician who compiled and analyzed the data, tells WebMD. "These rankings are not at all intended for those who need relatively routine procedures."
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Veterans Administration - Care Coordination Services

VA is the largest integrated health care system in the US. VA has the proud mission of serving veterans in the continental US, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. You might think that VA is the most challenged health care system in the nation. How can VA share your records with all the parts of its system?

VA leads the nation in using new technology to improve the delivery of care. Because of its information systems, VA is recognized by the Institute of Medicine for the quality of care it provides. Your computerized patient record can be moved to where you are. Now you can expect your VA health care provider to have all your information at hand. This means you can get care at a local community based outpatient clinic or any VA Medical Center. Your chart, reports and x-rays are all there for your physician to see. VA has found a way to connect the dots!
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Office of Care Coordination Services

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wormwood is the Basis for a Cancer-fighting Pill

A nontoxic pill that could be taken on an outpatient basis to combat breast cancer or leukemia sounds like a fantasy, but the treatment is becoming a reality due to the investigation of a University of Washington research team into an ancient Chinese remedy for malaria.

A study in the latest issue of the journal Life Sciences describes how the derivative killed virtually all human breast cancer cells exposed to it within 16 hours. Not only does it appear to be effective, but it's very selective," Lai said. "It's highly toxic to the cancer cells but has a marginal impact on normal breast cells."
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Obese and malnourished

A report released last week shows that obesity is harming the health of millions of Americans, including children and teens. The report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009," from the Trust for America's Health, says that 28.8 percent of Maryland youths ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese - and thus at increased risk of a long list of chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis and some cancers.

None of this comes as much of a shock. But here's something that most people probably would find surprising: Despite the fact that they generally eat more than enough food, overweight children also can suffer from malnutrition. How can a fat teenager living in Baltimore experience malnutrition, a condition that brings to mind images of children with swollen bellies living in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and other impoverished parts of the developing world?
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