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New Way to ‘Stop’ Premature Birth

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A drug used to treat cancer can stop contractions and may prevent premature labour, researchers say.
………click & see
The Newcastle University team tested the drug Trichostatin A on tissue taken from 36 women undergoing a caesarean.

The researchers said the therapy worked by increasing the levels of a protein that controls muscle relaxation.

One expert said with rates of premature births rising – there are 50,000 a year in the UK – a new treatment was badly needed.

Preterm labour and birth continue to be the single biggest cause of death in infants in the developed world and around 1,500 babies die in the UK every year.

A number of drugs are used to try to stop early labour, but most have serious side effects.

Trichostatin A (TSA) is known to promote the death of cancer cells.

The researchers got permission to take samples of the muscles of women undergoing caesarean sections at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, the Cellular and Molecular Medicine journal reported.

Contractions
They exposed the muscle to TSA and measured the effects on both spontaneous contractions and those induced by the labour drug, oxytocin.

They found an average 46% reduction in contractions for the spontaneously contracting tissue and an average 54% reduction in the oxytocin induced contractions.

It has been previously shown that a protein kinase A (PKA) is involved in controlling the relaxation of the uterus during pregnancy.

The researchers showed that TSA increased the levels of a protein sub-unit of PKA.

Professor Nick Europe-Finner, who led the research, said: “We will not give this drug to a patient because it can damage as many as 10% of the genes in a cell.

“But it does show us that other more specific agents that act on the same enzymes but only one at a time are worth investigating.”

New treatment
Dr Yolande Harley, deputy director of research at Action Medical Research which funded the study, said: “This project has uncovered some of the molecular pathways that regulate uterine contractions and so could be linked to premature birth.

“It could have a role in preventing premature birth – finding a new treatment for early labour would be a major step forward.”

Professor Jane Norman, a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG), said: “At the moment, it’s not possible to treat preterm labour effectively. We only have drugs that delay it by 24 hours or so – not enough to deliver the baby safely.

“One of the interesting things about this research is that they are using a new kind of drug – the drugs we are currently using have been around for a long time.

“And they are targeting pathways we have not known about before.

“When you consider that preterm birth rates are rising in all four countries of the UK a new more effective drug is badly needed.”

Source:BBC News:Oct.22 ’09

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Use of Anti-Obesity Drug Rising in Kids

There has been a significant increase in weight-loss drugs being prescribed to combat childhood obesity in UK, according to a new study.
Obese kids ->……Obese kids

The researchers said thousands of children and adolescents are using anti-obesity drugs that in the UK are only licensed for use by adults.

The number of young people receiving prescriptions for these drugs has increased 15-fold since 1999.

However, most stop using them before they could expect to see any benefit.

The study showed that more than three quarters of those included in the study received prescriptions for orlistat, also known as Xenical or Alli.

Orlistat has been approved for children as young as 12 in the US, but only for adults in the UK.

Most patients given orlistat stopped using it very quickly, on average after just three months, and therefore would have been unlikely to see any benefit.

“It”s possible that the drugs are being given inappropriately, or that they have excessive side effects that make young people discontinue their use,” said Russell Viner, one of the authors of the study based at the General & Adolescent Paediatrics Unit at University College London.

On the other hand they could be expecting the drugs to deliver a miracle “quick fix” and stop using them when sudden, rapid weight loss does not occur, he added.

Study author Ian Wong says that children who are prescribed orlistat may need more support and should be made fully aware of the potential side effects, which include loose, oily stools if fat intake is not reduced.

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Source:The study appears in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

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New Surgery For AMD Patients

An innovative form of eye surgery is offering hope to the estimated three million sufferers of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness in people over 55 in the UK.
…………………...CLICK & SEE
The technique, known as IOL VIP – Intra-Ocular Lenses for Visually Impaired People, is similar to cataract surgery. Developed in Milan by low-vision specialists and ophthalmologists, it was first made available in the UK about 18 months ago and is now performed in private hospitals, although it isn’t currently available on the NHS.

AMD damages the macula – the central part of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye – causing scarring, and preventing images being sent to the brain. This damage causes the gradual deterioration, or even loss, of central vision used for activities such as reading, writing, driving and recognising faces.
Eye

Hope: Treatment is now available for ‘dry’ AMD

There are two types of AMD: ‘dry’, the most common form, in which the cells of the macula disintegrate gradually; and the more aggressive ‘wet’ form. The latter is caused by the growth of new blood vessels behind the retina, which can leak, causing scarring and leading to loss of sight.

About ten per cent of people with AMD develop the ‘wet’ form, which can be treated with eye injections. But, until recently, there has been no effective treatment for the majority, who suffer from ‘dry’ AMD.

In the pioneering IOL VIP procedure, two artificial lenses are inserted into the eye. The natural lens behind the iris is removed and replaced with an artificial one, which diverts images from the scarred macula to healthy retinal tissue.

A second lens is then placed in front of the iris. Together, the two lenses act as a telescope, allowing the images to be focused and processed to the optic nerve and sent to the brain. The procedure can last as little as 30 minutes. It then takes approximately 12 weeks for sight to stabilise.

After the operation, computer vision training is vital to train the eye and get the best possible outcome.

Richard Newsom, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon, says: ‘The IOL VIP procedure is an exciting new innovation. It’s not appropriate for every patient with AMD and further studies are required but when it works, it works well and for some patients it can make a significant improvement to their vision.’

Brendan Moriarty, consultant eye surgeon at Leighton Hospital in Crewe, Cheshire, who was the first to perform the operation in the UK, says: ‘If you select patients correctly, the vast majority will at least double their near and distance vision.’

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists agrees further studies are required, stating that it is difficult to determine who will benefit and by how much.

The Macular Disease Society says it is not ‘a miracle cure’ and ‘has worked successfully for some but can’t be regarded as a regular new treatment for widespread use in MD patients’.

One patient who has benefited from the pioneering procedure, however, is 68-year-old Evelyn Dean.

Having suffered from ‘dry’ AMD for two-and-a-half years, Evelyn’s sight had deteriorated so much that she couldn’t read a book or newspaper-without a strong magnifying glass. To her dismay, it also got so bad she was told that she could no longer drive.

But, following an IOL VIP operation in November 2008 at Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital, Evelyn has been given the all-clear to get back behind the wheel.

She says: ‘ I can even read the labels on supermarket shelves properly, which I couldn’t before. I still wear glasses for long distances and reading but the best thing is being able to drive again after almost 15 months.

‘I feel like I have my freedom back.’

Sources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1200549/New-surgery-save-thousands-blindness.html#ixzz0LiXZkEUz

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‘Bee Sting Honey’ for Arthritis

LOXAHATCHEE, FL - FEBRUARY 15: A honey bee sit...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

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A New Zealand company is seeking EU approval to market honeybee venom to help people with arthritis ease their pain.

The honey may offer the gain without the pain

Nelson Honey & Marketing says two teaspoons a day of its honey with added venom milked from honeybees has anti-inflammatory power to soothe joints.

The venom concept is not new – some clinics even offer up bee stings.

The UK‘s Food Standards Agency said it would be considering the application in the coming months.

“It’s difficult to postulate the action of honeybee venom or how it purports to work, because any available evidence is entirely anecdotal ” Says Professor Alan Silman of the Arthritis Research Campaign

The Manuka honey with added bee venom has been available in New Zealand for 13 years and its makers say although it does contain a venom, it has proved extremely safe.

It contains a blend of honey derived from the native New Zealand Manuka tree and dried venom harvested from the Apis mellifera honeybee using electrical milking machines that send impulses to stimulate worker bees to sting through a latex film onto a glass collector plate.

Anecdotal benefit
The Nectar Ease label advises consumers to start with a quarter of a teaspoon a day and increase this to one or two as required.

It also warns that people with allergies to honey or bee venom should seek medical advice prior to use, and that it should not be given to infants under 12 months of age.

Honey has long been hailed for its healing properties, but the Arthritis Research Campaign said it was sceptical about the beneficial properties of honeybee venom in the treatment of arthritis.

The charity’s medical director Professor Alan Silman said: “We recently compiled a report on the effectiveness of complementary medicines in treating the common types of arthritis based on available scientific evidence and honeybee venom didn’t feature, as no research has been done into this product.

“As a result, it’s difficult to postulate the action of honeybee venom or how it purports to work, because any available evidence is entirely anecdotal.”

Source: BBC News:3 July.’09

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Home Light Therapy Psoriasis Hope

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A specialist light treatment for psoriasis is just as effective and safe when given at home as in hospital, say Dutch researchers.

Phototherapy has been around for decades>.

Phototherapy using UVB light is rarely used in the UK because of limited availability and the number of hospital visits required.

But a study of 200 patients found the same results with home treatment.

One UK expert said the British Medical Journal study highlighted an important treatment gap in psoriasis care.

Psoriasis is a common disorder caused by too rapid production of new skin cells, causing red scaly patches.

In my area there are very large numbers of people who don’t have access to phototherapy which is a shame as it’s a very effective and safe treatment

Professor Alex Anstey, Royal Gwent Hospital, Wales
Up to 3% of the UK population is affected by the non-contagious condition which can cause significant disability.

For those who have access to UVB treatment at their local dermatology unit, a course usually entails three visits each week for between eight to 10 weeks.

It works by dampening down the immune overreaction in the skin.

One reason that the treatment is usually done in hospital is because most dermatologists believe that home phototherapy is inferior and that it carries more risks.

In the latest study, patients with psoriasis from 14 hospital dermatology departments were randomly assigned to receive either home UVB phototherapy or hospital-based treatment.

Home treatment was equivalent to hospital therapy both in terms of safety and the effectiveness of clearing the condition.

And those treated at home reported a significantly lower burden of treatment and were more satisfied.

Equal treatments
Study leader Dr Mayke Koek, from Utrecht University Medical Centre, said: “We knew a lot of dermatologists are not convinced of the safety and effectiveness of UVB phototherapy but our theory was they should be equally safe.”

“One of the most important findings was a lot of patients treated at home were more satisfied.”

Professor Alex Anstey from the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Wales, said with the exception of Scotland, phototherapy in the UK was limited to people who lived near a big hospital.

“In my area there are very large numbers of people who don’t have access to phototherapy which is a shame as it’s a very effective and safe treatment.” ………Says Professor Alex Anstey, Royal Gwent Hospital, Wales

He said that the equipment – similar to a tanning bed, but a different type of light – costs between £5,000 and £10,000 but was very cheap compared with some of the new biological therapies in use and could be lent to patients for the duration of their treatment.

Gladys Edwards, chief executive of the Psoriasis Association, said the guidelines on treating psoriasis should be reviewed in light of the new research.

“Patient choice is important and for some patients managing their UV treatment at home would clearly be preferable.

“It is crucial, however, that there is absolutely clear guidance and information on when this is appropriate and how it should be managed for patients and clinicians.”

Sources
:BBC NEWS: 8TH. MAy’09

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