Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Researchers Develop a Method to Rapidly Create Monoclonal Antibodies

The Journal Nature reported today that researchers at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and Emory Vaccine Center reported a method to rapidly produce human monoclonal antibodies.

Currently monoclonal antibodies rely on mice to produce the monoclonal antibodies. The researchers humanized the mouse derived pieces to accelerated and enhance the yield of suitable antibodies.

To get around that problem, researchers now "humanize" the antibodies, replacing some or all of mouse-derived pieces with human ones. The technique increased the yield from .1% to 70% in their experiment. The technique also cut the time to develop an antibody to a few weeks instead of up to 2 years.

The utility of this process is fairly plain as diagnostics and therapies can be developed on a short time horizon to blunt potential pandemics.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Immune and Infectous Disease.

A fine article for the laymen is presented in Scientific American.

Aspirin Cuts Risk of Common Form of Breast Cancer

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute published finding today that affirmed aspirins reputation as a wonder drug. A daily administration of aspirin reduced the risk of developing ER- positive breast cancer by 16%. ER-positive breast cancer represents approximately 75% of all breast cancer cases in women. This confirms earlier studies conducted by Columbia University researchers.

The research involved about 127,000 women aged 51 to 72 from around the United States who were cancer-free when the study began. About 18 percent of the women were daily aspirin users. They were tracked for seven years and about 4,500 of them developed breast cancer.

Aspirin has long been administered for its analgesic qualities and it has long been used to treat cardiac and hematological conditions. Further it has also demonstrated that it may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Before electing to take aspirin daily one should discuss it with your healthcare provider due to adverse reactions that are associated with daily administration. The complete study can be reviewed online.

Monday, April 28, 2008

May is American Stroke Month

American Stroke Month
American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
(800) 242-8721
Materials available
Contact: Program departments or local chapters

A special program for American Stroke Month is the Power to End Stroke.
Power To End Stroke is an educational program that addresses the needs of African Americans who have higher rates of stroke than any other racial or ethnic group.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Deadly Intersection of the Flu and MRSA

ABC News and the Boston Globe have run reports highlighting the potential threat of co-infection of influenza and MRSA. Influenza kills at least 35,000 people in the US every year. This year’s influenza vaccine was less effective against the strains common this year. Each year the selection of vaccine type is a guessing game and mortality from flu will likely be higher this year. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a superbug that is resistant to common antibiotics because it is the product of the over use of common antibiotics. While MRSA can be successfully treated, for now, the likelihood of higher mortality rates when flu and MSRA are experienced concurrently is a near certainty.

The co-infection of viral and bacterial infections points to a serious problem that may grow difficult to control. The rise of not only MSRA but also more and more antibiotic resistant strains of common and once deadly infections coupled with a potent viral illness such as bird flu, SARS or drug resistant TB could result in a health catastrophe.

Is this a perfect storm?
All signs point to that direction. Drug resistant strains of infections continue to evolve, more diseases are jumping from animals to humans, the development of new antibiotics and anti-virals are difficullt and offers poor returns to developers, and the community is slowly losing its herd immunity due to misinformation about vaccination.

Why are we here?
Since the 1940’s science and medicine has successfully controlled and treated once deadly diseases en-mass. The population has been lulled into a false sense of security, if not addressed shortly, will result in a pandemic. For the time being, the best method of delay is flu vaccination and other vaccinations to prevent viral outbreaks and blunt antibiotic resistant strains infection from behaving opportunistically.

Regrettably, the CDC, AMA, FDA, family physicians, the pharmaceutical industry and the public health community have done a poor job communicating the importance of vaccination and its safety. In there place an odd confluence of anti-evolution, anti-science, home schooling religious zealots have linked up with Prius driving, McMansion-living, organic food eating Luddites that have started to dominate the discussion. Twenty states offer vaccination opt-out programs that are, in general, overly liberal. This is brilliant, risk public health based on emotion and not scientific evidence. Jenny McCarthy has no background in science or medicine. It is unclear whether she completed high school biology. Yet she appears on Larry King berating epidemiologists, virologists and physicians regarding vaccination. While I feel sorry for parents with children with unexplained neurological conditions, grasping at straws and seeking to attach blame to vaccines threatens the health of entire society.

Vaccinations do not cause autism. Autism is a description of symptoms not a disease. Don’t trust the CDC; Danish, British, and Canadian scientists have published peer-reviewed studies that present finding that are not consistent with vaccines being a causative factor in the development of symptoms consistent with autism. The studies claiming causative connections were very poorly designed an executed.

Very shortly, we will see the first of a series of very promising treatments for both Fragile X and certain types of autism put into humans. These treatments are the results of efforts of dozens of scientists laboring in obscurity for nearly two decades with insufficient funding. The time and funding wasted by people with agendas far away from science including but not limited to studying the effects of alternative medicine, prayers or happiness on disease is tragic. Science can provide a path to cure many diseases but when it is ignored by the people it can most help, little is accomplished.

Let’s get behind our scientific community and provide the funding to find treatments and cures. In the meantime, make sure to get both you and your children get vaccinated.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Diet Influences the Incidence of Breast Cancer

Canadian researchers authored a study published in Journal of Cancer Detection and Prevention that suggest that dietary patterns influence the development of breast cancer for women with and without a genetic predisposition to the disease.

The research was a retrospective study analyzing 9 years of data through 2007. The results indicated that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, fish, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, and phytoestrogens is associated with a reduction in the incidence of breast cancer. A diet that has a high intake of meats or saturated fats is associated with an increase in the incidence of breast cancer.

Additional research is being conducted to tease out the critical factors tying diet to the development of breast cancer.

Cancer immunotherapy shows promise in Lung Cancer

Long-term clinical trial results were presented today at the 1st European Lung Cancer Conference demonstrate that MAGE-A3 ASCI (Antigen-Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic), an immune-boosting treatment for lung cancer patients, reduces the risk of relapse after surgery -- to the same extent as chemotherapy.

Prof. Johan Vansteenkiste from University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Belgium described the results after 44-months follow-up from a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 182 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer -- the most common form of the disease.

"The aim is to help the body immune system to recognize the MAGE-A3 antigen and therefore eliminate the cancer cells that express MAGE-A3," explains Prof. Vansteenkiste. "In other words, it is a kind of treatment method that makes the body immune system specifically attack the lung cancer cells."

After 44 months, 69 of 182 patients had experienced a recurrence of their cancer, including 57 deaths. Those given the MAGE-A3 injections had longer on average before their cancer recurred, were less likely to have any recurrence, and were less likely to die.

"Surgical resection is the standard treatment for patients with early stage lung cancer, but after complete resection about 50% will relapse and die from their cancer," says Prof. Vansteenkiste. "Postoperative chemotherapy is able to improve cure rates, but is sometimes poorly tolerated by patients recovering from thoracic surgery. In addition, not all patients are fit to receive chemotherapy.

Most patients only experience mild reactions at the injection site and fever within 24 hours of the injection, he explained. "Therefore, it is suitable for long-term maintenance treatment and for most patients, including older patients or patients in weak physical condition after surgery, allowing them to live a normal life whilst on cancer treatment." A large Phase III trial of the therapy, named MAGRIT, is now underway.

Common Viruses May Play a Role in the Development of Lung Cancer

Papers presented at the 1st European Lung Cancer Conference demonstrate that common viruses may play a role in the development of lung cancer. While smoking is the leading risk factor in developing lung cancer, other factors do play a role including radon, mineral dust exposure and now exposure to certain viruses.

Dr. Arash Rezazadeh and colleagues from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA, presented an article that described the results of a study on 23 lung cancer samples from patients in Kentucky.

The researchers found six samples that tested positive for the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that also causes many cases of cervical cancer. One was later shown to be a cervical cancer that had spread to the lungs. Of the remaining 5 virus-positive samples, two were HPV type 16, two were HPV type 11 and one was HPV type 22.

All subjects were smokers. However, evidence that 6 of 23 should evidence of HPV would warrant a larger sample and further investigation to determine the role HPV may have in the development of lung cancer. Further, samples should be taken from subjects who have never smoked or been subjected to other common risk factors.

A second paper by Israeli researchers suggests that measles virus may also be a factor in some lung cancers. Their study included 65 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, of whom more than half had evidence of measles virus in tissue samples taken from their tumors. The lead author, Prof. Samuel Ariad from Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, Israel suggests that measles is most likely acts in modifying the effect of other carcinogens and not as a causative factor by itself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Veterans Continue to Get Shafted Again and Again and…

The continued tragicomedy regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs tabulation of cases of suicides continues in Washington. Watching senators and representatives express indignation at the treatment of veterans is good political theater but is unlikely to change anything. Senior staff of numerous senators and representatives have been aware of the documented mistreatment of veterans for years. This is not limited to suicide but also general mental health and traumatic brain injury. No one gets fired, no one gets their pensions reclaimed, and no medical staffer has his or her license revoked. General Kiley was responsible for leaving wounded troops in the snow and he will retire with a full pension and works out of nice office in the Pentagon.

The DoD, VA and Tricare happily represent to our elected officials that everything is being done. Pure nonsense!!! The suicide issue only warranted political action because the VA got caught lying to CBS News. Politicians should transfer all spending on suicide, traumatic brain injury and mental health to an independent commission led by scientists, physicians and psychologists who are not connected to any government agencies. I have no doubt that our research and teaching hospitals can and could have provided excellent treatment and triage without the unneeded expense of attempting to rebuild the VA. A plan of this nature was presented to the Dole commission but was ignored. The civilian medical system is and was prepared to accept patients to clear the backlog and apply the most appropriate technologies to serve our warriors.

Let’s face it. There is a premium on holding the casualty count down and making sure that disability payments are not made. Field medical officers of the military knew what preparations should be made before deployment to Afghanistan especially to address likelihood of neurological insult and psychiatric disorders. As early as 2004, field medical officers in all three branches knew that it was time to start ramping-up psychiatric services as a large number of troopers were returning with depression, anxiety and PTSD. The chain of command did not care and to this day is manned by medically unqualified officers. You will find so-called experts at the DoD include a homeopathic dentist, general practitioners, a PhD in physical rehab. What they know about suicide, mental health or TBI is questionable. Where are the neurosurgeons, the neurologists, psychiatrists and the neuropsychologists? The DoD does not use the people most qualified practitioners because they will not follow a political agenda driven by Washington.

We have no more time for special blue ribbon panels, for veterans’ organizations with their heads in the sand, for politicians blabbering without backing up their words with action. Hundreds of thousands of vets are wounded and can be treated. Stop the nonsense – identify the wounded and treat them. The technology and methodology exist; it simply needs to be applied by parties more concerned with serving the people than a bunch of bureaucrats. It will be cheaper than the costs of incarceration, mortuary services, alcohol treatment, substance abuse treatment and long-term unemployment. The bill is due, and it is time to pay.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

US Life Expectantcy Declining for a Significant Portion of the Population

For the first time since 1918, following the outbreak of Spanish Flu Pandemic, life expectancy for a significant number of Americans is in decline. Although life span has generally increased since 1961, the authors reported, it began to level off or even decline in the 1980s for 4 percent of men and 19 percent of women .In close to 1,000 counties, home to apprximately 12 percent of the nation's women, life expectancy is now shorter than it was in the early 1980s, according to a study published today.

The trend is attributable to a leveling in gains from cardiac disease and an increase in deaths from diabetes, lung cancer, hypertension, emphysema and kidney failure. The reduction in male life spans was influenced by the incidence of HIV and homicide.

Socio-economic factors certainly play a role. Behaviors commonly exhibited by less educated and less prosperous people including smoking, alcohol excess, poor diet, lack of exercise, and a generally lower regard for future health results in premature death.

The counties exhibiting significant declines in life expectancy were concentrated in Appalachia, the Southeast, Texas, the southern Midwest and along the Mississippi River. Life expectancy increases were concentrated primarily in counties in Northeast and on the Pacific Coast.

What can be done?
Education is first and foremost;
Intensify preventive medicine efforts in the worst-off counties;
Utilize evidence-based medicine;
Actively discourage smoking;
Actively reduce alcohol consumption and drug abuse;
Encourage better nutrition and exercise;
Increase the quality and availability of sex education; and
Intensify chronic disease management with an emphasis of obesity, hyper-tension and diabetes.

For the complete report, visit PLoS.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Melanoma on the Scalp and Neck are Most Deadly

Patients with melanoma on the scalp or neck died at nearly twice the rate of those with melanoma elsewhere on the body, the researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found. The best prognosis was for patients that had melanoma on the arms, legs, face or ears.

The study analyzed 51,704 people diagnosed with melanoma in the United States from 1992 to 2003. The study concluded that survival rates varied depended on where on the body it first appeared.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and can easily metastasize while the lesions are small.

The study showed a five-year survival rate for people with scalp or neck melanomas at 83 percent, compared with 92 percent for those with melanomas elsewhere on the body. The 10-year survival rate for people with scalp or neck melanomas was 76 percent, compared to 89 percent for other melanomas.

The study showed that 43 percent of the people in the study had melanomas on their arms or legs, 34 percent on the trunk, 12 percent on the face or ears, 6 percent on the scalp or neck and 4 percent at an unspecified site.

It strongly implies that dermatologists conducting screening should pay special attention to the head and scalp due to the higher rates of mortality.

Melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin disease. Rates of melanoma have been increasing in recent years. Melanoma is often first detected when there is a change in the size, shape or appearance of a mole.

Melanoma can be linked to sun exposure, especially sunburns during childhood. People with fairer skin are at elevated risk, and some people have a family history of melanoma.

The ACS reports that an estimated 62,000 cases of melanoma will be reported this year and 8,400 will die of the disease.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Herceptin in combination with Chemotherapy Eliminates Tumors in Half the Targeted Patients Without Surgery

The results of study presented European Breast Cancer Conference in Berlin. The treatment was targeted at 453 HER2 positive women with early-stage breast canncer. 45.5 per cent were found cancer free following the combination course before surgery. The response from Herceptin in combination is more than double than that of traditional chemotherapy alone. No serious side-effects were reported, but patients receiving Herceptin should always be monitored closely for potential cardiac problems.

It points to the possiblity that women with this highly aggressive form of breast cancer may find a cure within the next decade.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cognitive Impairment Identified in 1 in 5 Seniors

Meaningful cognitive impairment afflicts 1 in 5 Seniors reports Joan Arehart-Treichel in Psychiatric News.

American, Canadian and European researchers have estimated that between 17% and 27% present evidence of measurable cognitive impairment without dementia.

The Healing Project has strongly advocated better diagnostic procedures be utilized in meeting the needs of the elderly. Dementia is often misdiagnosed or is failed to be diagnosed. If you or a loved one feels that they are not thinking clearly make sure to see an experienced psychiatrist, gerontologist or neurologist to make a diagnosis.

Common causes of cognitive deficits without dementia include alcohol abuse, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Given the common nature of this disorder, one should realize in many cases it is reversible. First and foremost as we age we all become somewhat less sharp; don’t be alarmed. In some cases, the decline may be treatable and/or reversible. On the other hand, exercise, better nutrition, lowering cholesterol, and managing blood pressure can only have beneficial effects on one’s mind.

The Healing Project highly recommends the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s Practical Guide to Achieving and Maintaining Cognitive Vitality with Aging. It is cogent and useful. It was authored by Dr. Howard Fillet one our nation’s leading dementia researchers and clinicians.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The FDA Should Allow Peer-Reviewed Journal Republication As a Promotional Tool

The Food and Drug Administration has been considering a proposal to let drug makers use reprints of journal articles in promoting drugs for so-called off-label uses the FDA itself has not approved. The FDA would require the all publications circulated would have to be republished from a peer-reviewed medical journal. For patients in all groups across the US this plan offers the opportunity to receive therapies that are often delivered in our finest research institutions. The impact in the fields of oncology, psychiatry and neurology could be profound.

The Healing Project not only supports this initiative but also that of Abigail’s Alliance that seeks easier access to experimental treatments for people suffering from life threatening diseases. It is time to grow-up. Many things can injure us including food, vitamins, supplements etc. The FDA, CDC, and NIH are grossly under-funded and treatments that would benefit many patients are left catching dust because of the hostile regulatory environment and penurious insurance company gate keepers.

Nonetheless, the opponents of this proposal rightly point out that bad actors in the marketing departments of pharmaceuticals companies could game the system. Ghostwritten articles and manufactured research could be used to promote the inappropriate use of compounds. Regrettably, the industry’s hands are dirty as demonstrated by the recent admission that Merck shaped an article published in JAMA. The Healing Project has enormous respect for the researchers within the pharmaceutical industry but marketing has far too much to say. In order to ensure that this initiative is adopted, the industry should volunteer to accept a harsh penalty for fabricating articles and or manipulating research utilized to promote off-label prescriptions. The owner of the compound would forfeit one or more years of gross profit attributable to the agent. Further, the authors attached to the article should be deemed ineligible for any federal or state funding for a period of no less than five years. With penalties in place, it is quite likely the research promoted would be clean and patients would be eligible for medications they often desperately require.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression

The Rand Corporation published a study today that states that nearly 20 percent (300,000) of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression.

Only slightly more the half reporting symptoms sought treatment. The reasons most often sighted for not seeking treatment were the potential negative effect on career progress. Of those who sought treatment approximately half received minimally acceptable levels of treatment.

In addition, researchers found about 19 percent of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed, with 7 percent reporting both a probable brain injury and current PTSD or major depression.

"There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Terri Tanielian, the project's co-leader and a researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation.

Researchers also found an urgent need to train more mental health providers throughout the U.S. health care system on delivering evidence-based treatments to service members and veterans. While many opportunities for treatment exist for active-duty personnel, there is no system in place to monitor the quality of those services to ensure they are getting the latest science-based forms of treatment.

Researchers suggest special training programs are needed to instruct mental health providers in the military, veterans and civilian health systems about the type of evidence-based treatments needed by service members. Only providers with such training should be eligible to treat service members and payment programs should be retooled to reward providers who use science-based treatments. "It's going to take system-level changes — not a series of small band-aids — to improve treatments for these illnesses," Tanielian said.

Regrettably much of this problem was foreseen and preventable. Health professionals across the services recognized the potential for both cognitive and psychological injuries before the first deployment to Afghanistan. For years and to this day the DoD, VA and Tricare have actively avoided applying technologies that would have screened, identified, cataloged and tracked these wounded service members. For Rand to suggest the DoD, VA and Triacare to be left entrusted with supervising the care of the service members is laughable. The leadership of these entities have failed to address either psychological or cognitive injuries for seven years. In addition, Congress, the Senate and Veterans Organizations have been aware of both the problem and solutions for years and have done nothing to fix the problem. Casualty counts will increase by an order of magnitude, treatment costs will explode and disability payments will sore. No one wants Instead, many of these service members will end up on the streets, in the penal system, in morgues, alcoholic and/or drug addicted. Well done.

It is time to remove the current leadership for all elements or military and veterans’ medical care. Further, the commanders responsible for this gross maltreatment of our service members should be identified, have their pensions reclaimed, be reduced in rank, cashiered and have their medical licenses revoked for negligence. When the Walter Reade scandal broke, General Kiley, the US Army Surgeon General, suffered no injury. He was given an office in the Pentagon and will retire as a full three star general. It sent the message to all line officers that regardless of how you treat the wounded as long as you keep the costs down you are only risk public ridicule. If you fight for better treatment for our service members, you are making a career limiting decision.

Expect no change, no one cares. It is an election year, and vets are like puppies. You got to love them publicly but who cares when they are out of sight.

The report is titled "Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery." The full report and several summaries are available at

Lifestyle Affects the Development of Alzheimer’s

Two studies presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting pointed to link between smoking drinking and cholesterol levels and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

In a study of 900 people over 60 conducted by Mt Sinai Hospital (New York) found people who had more than 2 drinks a day and those who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes coupled with have the ApOE4 gene variant developed AD on accelerated basis. Smokers developed AD two years earlier than expected and drinkers five years earlier than expected. If you were both a heavy smoker and heavy drinker with the ApOE4 expression you would develop AD 8.5 years earlier than expected.

If one wish to delay the onset of AD stop smoking and curtail your consumption of alcohol.

A second study tracked 9,700 men and women from age 40 tracking the level of cholesterol and the rate of development of AD. It found that individual in the high cholesterol group were 1 and ½ times more likely to develop AD than the low cholesterol group.

If you wish to reduce your chances of developing dementia, eat a balanced diet, exercise, control your cholesterol and watch your weight.

These studies affirm that are genetics are not the sole determinant of outcome and that we can adjust our lifestyles to delay the onset of dementia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

High Doses of vitamin E in Combination with a Cholinesterase Inhibitor Show a Decrease in Mortality

This study conflicts with recent studies that demonstrated increased mortality associated with high doses of vitamin E. In addition, some studies have demonstrated an increase in Lung Cancer associated with high doses of vitamin E.

This study was conducted over 15 years tracking survival rates among 847 men and women already diagnosed with various stages of Alzheimer's by Valory Pavlik of Baylor College of Medicine's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center in Houston, Texas. Patients were prescribed two daily doses of 1000 IUs of vitamin E. The researchers found that patients who consumed the prescribed daily dosage of vitamin E appeared to extend their life span by 26 percent, compared with those not taking vitamin E. The study controlled for age, gender, years of education, race, ethnicity, co-morbidities and severity of dementia at the point of inclusion in the study.

These results would argue additional research is required.

Lipitor Fails to Demonstrate a Positive Effect as an Adjunctive Therapy with Aricept

The LEADe study was 18 months in duration and included 640 patients. The patients presented with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the addition of Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium tablets) 80 mg to Aricept® (donepezil HCl) 10 mg showed no significant differences in cognition or global function (key measures of Alzheimer’s progression) compared to placebo plus Aricept 10 mg. No statistically significant results were demonstrated on secondary end-points that included cognitive, behavioral and functional measures.

A more interesting study would be to investigate the statin families prophylactic efficacy on a broad range of dementias. It is reasonably to hypothesize that statins may have a positive effect on a range of dementia by reducing the stress on the coronary system and/or reducing inflammation.

Long-term use of Hormone Therapy Does not Influence the Incidence of Dementia

The long-term use of estrogen or estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy does not reduce the risk of dementia, according to findings published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study was by led Dr. Valerie Crooks, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena. The study included 2,900 dementia free women at baseline with 1500 on hormone therapy. The subjects were at least 75 years of age. Tests were conducted annually to measure cognitive ability.

Of the 1500 of the women in the study were hormone users, the average age at the start of hormone therapy was 48.3 years for those who used estrogen alone and 54.9 years for those who used estrogen/progestin. The average duration of hormone use was 30.5 years and 23.2 years for estrogen and estrogen/progestin users, respectively.

283 women developed dementia during over the course of the study. The study controlled for age, education, and medical history. The conclusion is that hormone use did not affect the risk of dementia when the intervention begins near or around post-menopause.

Hormone therapy cannot be fully dismissed as the types of hormones, levels of hormones, and the time of first administration has not been fully examined. Further, the identification of subsets of patients that might benefit from a hormone intervention has not been identified. More work is needed.

April 19-26 is National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. Since 1994, NIIW has served as a call to action for parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers to ensure that infants are fully immunized against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. This year NIIW will be held April 19-26, 2008.

Vaccination plays a critical role in safeguarding public health globally. During NIIW 2008, hundreds of communities across the United States will join those in the Western Hemisphere and Europe to celebrate Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) and European Immunization Week. Over sixty countries around the world will participate.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE, MS E-05Atlanta, GA 30333
(800) CDC-INFO (232-4636) English/Spanish
(888) CDC-FAXX (232-3299) Free fax-back
(404) 639-8905 (Fax)
(404) 639-8561 (Phone)

The Declining Rates of Breast Cancer in Recent Years are Largely Confined to Caucasians

Research conducted Dr. Dezheng Huo of the University of Chicago illustrates that the sharp drop in U.S. breast cancer cases in recent years was limited to Caucasian women. The decline maybe linked to Caucasian women’s greater use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the late 90’s than other ethnic groups. Many women terminated using hormone replacement therapy after a large study suggested in 2002 that the combination of estrogen and progestin used to treat menopause symptoms raised the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, the overall incidence of female breast cancer fell 3.9 percent a year from 2001 through 2004. The bulk of the decline has been principally among women older than 50 with estrogen-receptor positive cancer.

Rates of change in rates of breast cancer by ethnic are as follows (by the end of 2003):

Caucasians had 2.4 percent decline per quarter;
African Americans had a 0.7 percent increase per quarter;
American Indians and Alaskan Natives had 0.14 percent decline per quarter; and
Asian Americans by 0.46 percent decline per quarter.

This study offers additional evidence that HRT (estrogen therapy) influences the rates of breast cancer in women.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Less than 2% of Early-Onset Dementia is Alzheimer’s

A great deal of press was generated a few years ago when The U.S. Administration on Aging highlights 2006 estimates released by the Alzheimer's Association, which indicate that between 220,000 and 640,000 American men and women currently suffer from early-onset dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association specifically defined early-onset dementia as Alzheimer’s developed at an age below 65. Many in the research community rolled their eyes as this was unlikely to be the case and was unnecessarily alarmist and not based on scientific evidence.

Dr. Brendan J. Kelley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has conducted a study focused exclusively on 235 patients diagnosed with a form of dementia diagnosed between the ages of 17 and 45 -- citing statistics suggesting that 12 in 100,000 people develop some form of early-onset dementia before the age of 45. The results of the study is that early onset dementia is the result of inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Huntington's, lupus or HIV infection.

The study’s data indicated that approximately:

33% of the cases were classified as frontotemporal dementia
20% of the cases of dementia were resulting from autoimmune and inflammatory disorders
10% of the cases of dementia resulted from metabolic disorders
20% could not be directly attributed to any cause.

Dr. Kelley is attempting to identify markers that would offer better diagnostic methods for early-onset dementia. He rightly believes that these types of dementia may be treated by combating the underlying disease mechanism.

Regrettably, this is just further evidence that dementia research has taken a back seat to Alzheimer’s research. Of the 5,5MM so-called Alzheimer’s patients in the United States, epidemiological evidence would argue a population that includes misclassified cases of vascular dementia, pharmaceutical dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, frontotemporal dementia, as well as, depression. Complicating matters is that many patients present with overlapping and co-morbid conditions. Research indicates that only 60% have Alzheimer’s involvement and only approximately 30% of patients present with Alzheimer’s solely. The tragedy is that many misclassified patients could benefit through known clinical interventions and that much of the research that has been conducted over the last two decades does not account for the true nature of dementia in the elderly.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise Against Deadlier Form of Disease

A breast cancer vaccine in Phase II clinical testing significantly reduced reoccurrence and mortality in early stage patients with a high expression of protein HER2-neu. HER2-neu patients represent 25% of all breast cancer patients. The vaccine lowered mortality by 100 percent in women with breast cancer and low or intermediate expression of HER2/neu. Current treatments for HER2-neu expressing patients are limited to chemotherapy and surgery. Regrettably the study design was insufficiently powered to generate a statistically significant result, that is, the results maybe due to chance. Nonetheless, the vaccine is safe and well-tolerated. The vaccine is designed to stimulate the immune system to fight breast cancer. A Phase III trial is planned for 700 to 1000 patients for patients that are not eligible for Herceptin. The sponsor is Apthera. Please check with Clintrials if you would like to participate.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month

National Sarcoidosis Society, Inc. and Affiliates
2525 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
(877) 763-4389
(312) 567-6626
(312) 567-6144 Fax

Friday, April 11, 2008


The Healing Project (THP) wishes to alert its community to the upcoming presentation of THE TRUTH ABOUT CANCER on PBS. The Healing Project was founded by a breast cancer survivor, Debra Lachance. Our Board of Directors includes scientist H. Michael Shepard, PhD who led the Herceptin discovery team at Genentech. Dr. Shepard continues to develop novel medications for treating a range of diseases including Breast Cancer as president and CSO of Receptor BioLogix. Stephanie F. Bernik, MD, FACS is a member of our Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Bernik is Chief of Breast Surgery for the comprehensive breast program at St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York City. THP is painfully aware of how far we need to go in developing treatments and cures for a range of cancers, especially metastatic cancers. Take some time and watch this film as it presents the realities of what many patients and families are confronting.

About the Film
What is the truth about cancer? Is it the same deadly killer it was 30 years ago - or are we making progress? Find out through the poignant stories of patients battling the disease. Written, produced, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Linda Garmon, The Truth About Cancer (Web Site) premieres nationally on PBS Wednesday, April 16, at 9:00pm ET (check local listings). Comprised of a 90-minute documentary followed by a 30-minute panel discussion, the two-hour broadcast event takes a deep look inside the cancer field gauging how far we have come in this decades-old war and asking, "Why does anyone still die of cancer?"

Part science, part personal catharsis, part character-driven storytelling, The Truth About Cancer is narrated by Garmon, who tells the moving story of her husband's battle with cancer. Over the course of the film, Garmon returns to the same Boston-area hospitals at which her husband was treated, and exposes startling truths about survival rates of metastisized cancers, and the limited success of drugs and clinical trials. Interwoven throughout are the stories of three additional cancer patients, and their families and doctors, as they navigate the deeply personal decisions surrounding the disease. The documentary also follows several medical professionals working to promote screening, research the latest developments in cancer treatment, and help patients and their families live with a cancer diagnosis.

"This film makes it clear that it's very much a part of American culture to believe that if you fight hard enough, you can beat cancer. But when it comes to having metastatic cancer, your survival depends on the biology of your cancer cells, and whether they are susceptible to state-of-the-art treatment," says Garmon. "In sharing my husband's story and the stories of other patients, I hope to shed light on this important truth." The Truth About Cancer is the third installment of PBS's Take One Step—a campaign offering primetime programming and outreach tools to help people take the first step towards better health. Following the 90-minute documentary is a 30-minute panel discussion entitled Take One Step: A Conversation About Cancer with Linda Ellerbee. News journalist and breast cancer survivor Linda Ellerbee moderates the dialogue featuring a panel of doctors, all of whom are cancer survivors themselves. Having sat on both sides of a cancer diagnosis, the panel shares their unique perspectives, offering both personal and professional observations on how to handle a cancer diagnosis, what to say to loved ones, how to advocate for yourself, and how to best live your life, with cancer. Panelists include U.S. News and World Report health editor Dr. Bernadine Healy; breast cancer surgeon and Breast Cancer Research stamp mastermind Dr. Ernie Bodai; neurologist and leading palliative care expert Dr. Richard Payne; and counseling psychologist Dr. Paul Brenner.

Resources for Cancer Patients and Caregivers:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Medicated Child Premieres on PBS Frontline

PBS Frontline is premiering The Medicated Child that examines the use of powerful psychiatric drugs on children. The Healing Project strongly encourages parents to judiciously use all prescription drugs, supplements and alternative therapies. The extraordinary rise in the use of very powerful unpredictable pharmaceutical compounds on children is of great concern. In many psychiatric disorders in both adults and children, psychological and behavioral interventions are often successful. Nonetheless, if these therapies fail to demonstrate results, pharmaceuticals are often the best solution. One should seek to find a board certified child psychiatrist or neurologist (preferably trained at a leading research center), depending on the nature of the malady, and have your child carefully examined before committing to a particular course of treatment.

The Medicated Child

Six million American children are taking psychiatric drugs, but most have never been tested on children. Is this good medicine – or an uncontrolled experiment?

About the Film
In recent years, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of children being diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders and prescribed medications that are just beginning to be tested in children. The drugs can cause serious side effects, and virtually nothing is known about their long-term impact. "It's really to some extent an experiment, trying medications in these children of this age," child psychiatrist Dr. Patrick Bacon tells FRONTLINE. "It's a gamble. And I tell parents there's no way to know what's going to work." In FRONTLINE's report, The Medicated Child, producer Marcela Gaviria confronts psychiatrists, researchers and government regulators about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs for troubled children.

Watch the Full Program Online - Free
Free Parents Guide

April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you are not alone – IBS is common with worldwide prevalence estimated at 9% to 23%. Although the condition is associated with heavy economic and social burdens, many people remain undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms indicate a medically recognized disorder.

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

P.O. Box 170864
Milwaukee, WI 53217-8076
(888) 964-2001 (414) 964-1799
(414) 964-7176 Fax

Sunday, April 6, 2008

20 Years of Wasted Research? Beta-Amyloid Theory Called into Question, Again.

Science Daily reports that University California, Irvine reports that a promising Alzheimer’s Vaccine tested in a canine succeeded in clearing beta-amyloid plaques but failed to demonstrate ecologically results of restoring memory and/or learning ability. This is no surprise.

The near religious zealotry that has surrounded beat-amyloid theory has caused the loss of many promising avenues of research over the last 20 years. If the Elan/Wyeth AD Vaccine in phase III trials demonstrates plaque reduction without ecological validity, it should not be marketed. Beta-amyloid is a surrogate marker for Alzheimer’s not the outcome (Most 50 year-olds have some plaques and tangles without exhibiting AD). Further, any drug seeking to FDA approval must demonstrate a direct benefit of increased ir stable memory and learning capacity relative to the expected decline in the disease. (In no way does the editor supports the use of the ADAS-Cog endpoint, it is flawed and borders on useless.) Also, it would be useful to measure the effect on psychiatric disorders presented by many dementia patients.

We will shortly see the results of several late-stage clinical trials that have targeted beta-amyloid, and I am not sanguine. Dementia is very complicated and Alzheimer’s disease is a subset of the space. Many patients with Alzheimer’s have other forms of dementia. Measurement is very challenging. Any approval of an agent should not rely on anything other than the patients’ cognitive performance and mental condition. The failures in dementia research are so myriad that it defies description.

In the event beta-amyloid therapies fail in humans, it is time to replace the entire leadership of Alzheimer’s research across the board from universities, foundations, not-for-profit organizations, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies. (Pharma has already starting moving its chips as its researchers are only vested in producing drugs that can be marketed.) They bet big on one theory resulting in the dismissal of alternative theories and insured that we will be set back 20 years. Not only was this ill-informed, it demonstrated an arrogance that is unsuitable in science. A younger generation of researchers have a vastly better understanding of the disease and maintain open minds. Much as Dr. Anthony Fauci has recently called for new generation to take up the mantle of developing an AIDs vaccine, it is time dementia research follow suit. The old guard is invested in proving its theory was correct so they can keep getting grants. Admit the failure and get on to solving the problem.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Caring For Your Parents Premieres Tonignt at 9 on PBS

About the Special
As the population ages, many adult children are grappling with an unprecedented social, cultural, economic, and personal revolution as they transition into the primary caregiver role for their aging parents. Produced, written, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael Kirk, Caring for Your Parents is a moving two-hour special that draws much-needed attention to this universal reality.

The first 90-minutes of Caring for Your Parents underscores today's struggle to keep parents at home, tensions between siblings, and the complexity of shifting caregiver roles through an intimate look at five American families. In the end, the documentary contends successful caregiving requires one primary ingredient love.

Immediately after the 90-minute broadcast, medical correspondent Dr. Art Ulene leads "A Conversation About Caring." This half-hour panel discussion offers concrete advice and guidance on how to start the conversation often the most difficult step in caregiving.

Caring for Your Parents is a Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd. Production for WGBH Boston. The executive producer is Laurie Donnelly. Major funding is provided by Harrah's Foundation. Additional funding by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

A clip of Caring For Your Parents is available, and Starting April 3, 2008 the program is shown in its entirety at PBS online.

Filmmakers Lab – personal short films on Caring For Your Parents.

Free Online Handbook

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