ASCLS eNewsBytes
Nov. 20, 2012

Patients expect too much of screening, prevention
Medwire News via The Medical News
Patients overestimate the benefit that can be expected from cancer screening and preventive medications, setting minimal acceptable benefits unrealistically high, the results of a New Zealand study indicate. In all, 354 general practice patients aged 50-70 years completed a questionnaire that asked them to estimate the number of events prevented by screening for breast cancer and bowel cancer, and preventive medication for hip fracture and cardiovascular disease, in a group of 5,000 patients receiving an intervention for 10 years.More

Scientists discover gene switch important in cancer
Karolinska Institute via Medical Xpress
Scientists at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of Helsinki in Finland have shown that the "switches" that regulate the expression of genes play a major role in the development of cancer. In a study published in Science, they have investigated a gene region that contains a particular single nucleotide variant associated with increased risk for developing colorectal and prostate cancers — and found that removing this region caused dramatic resistance to tumor formation.More

Chances to avert meningitis outbreak possibly missed
The Tennesseean via USA Today
In 2011, long before the current deadly meningitis outbreak, an official in the FDA regional office in Denver sent an email to a colleague in Boston detailing allegations that a Massachusetts drug compounder was illegally shipping drugs to Colorado hospitals. The information came from Colorado state inspectors who had then passed the concerns along to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But there the information stopped.More

FDA panel gives nod to bird flu vaccine
MedPage Today
An FDA advisory panel has voted in favor of a vaccine against the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu that would be stockpiled and used in case of pandemic. By twin votes of 14-0, the panel agreed that the immunogenicity and the safety of the vaccine, made in Quebec by GlaxoSmithKline, were enough to meet licensing standards under accelerated approval regulations.More

8 often-overlooked tips for membrane protein crystallization
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
Protein crystals are necessary prerequisites for their detailed structural study by X-ray crystallography. Growing membrane protein crystals is typically a laborious trial and error-type search process that requires patience and willingness to explore alternatives outside of standard protocols. Here are eight often-overlooked tips to consider when embarking on a membrane protein crystallization project.More

A flooded mess that was a medical gem
The New York Times
NYU Langone, with its combination of clinical, research and academic facilities, may have been the New York City hospital that was most devastated by Hurricane Sandy. What's next is a spectacularly expensive cleanup. More

Pancreas stem cell discovery may lead to new diabetes treatments
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute via Medical Xpress
Stem cells in the adult pancreas have been identified that can be turned into insulin-producing cells, a finding that means people with type 1 diabetes might one day be able to regenerate their own insulin-producing cells. The discovery was made by scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and provides further evidence that stem cells don't only occur in the embryo. The ability to produce the hormone insulin is crucial for controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels.More

Injectable sponge delivers drugs, cells and structure
Harvard University via R&D Magazine
Bioengineers at Harvard University have developed a gel-based sponge that can be molded to any shape, loaded with drugs or stem cells, compressed to a fraction of its size and delivered via injection. Once inside the body, it pops back to its original shape and gradually releases its cargo, before safely degrading.More

Nanoparticles stop multiple sclerosis in mice
Medical News Today
A breakthrough new experimental treatment that uses nanoparticles covered with proteins to trick the immune system, managed to stop it from attacking myelin and halt disease progression in mice with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. The researchers say the approach may also be applicable to other auto-immune diseases such as asthma and type 1 diabetes. More

Herceptin may carry higher heart risks for women than thought
HealthDay News
The risks of developing heart problems while taking the breast cancer drug Herceptin alone or with other anti-cancer drugs may be even higher for older women than thought, new research indicates. Herceptin has long been used to treat breast cancers that overproduce HER-2, also known as human epidermal growth factor. The drug improves disease-free and overall survival, but experts have known that it increases the risk of heart failure because it can affect the ability of the heart to pump blood. More

Probiotics cut antibiotic-associated C diff diarrhea by 66 percent
Medscape Medical News
A meta-analysis of 20 trials covering 3,800 participants found probiotics were associated with a 66 percent reduction in the incidence of Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea, according to a study published online in Annals of Internal Medicine. Bradley C. Johnston, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto, and colleagues say the study provides "moderate-quality evidence" favoring probiotic prophylaxis during antibiotic treatment.More