ASCLS eNewsBytes
Apr. 30, 2013

Study reveals natural process that blocks viruses
University of Southern California via Medical Xpress
The human body has the ability to ward off viruses by activating a naturally occurring protein at the cellular level, setting off a chain reaction that disrupts the levels of cholesterol required in cell membranes to enable viruses to enter cells. The findings, discovered by researchers in molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, hold promise for the development of therapies to fight a variety of viral infections. More

Danish scientists on brink of HIV cure
The Telegraph
Danish scientists are expecting results that will show that "finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible." They are conducting clinical trials to test a "novel strategy" in which the HIV virus is stripped from human DNA and destroyed permanently by the immune system.More

FDA's counterfeit detection device takes global aim at malaria
Los Angeles Times
A device that reveals counterfeit drugs in the hands of Food & Drug Administration agents is set to become the newest weapon in the worldwide effort to eradicate malaria, and may soon be used to detect useless lookalikes of drugs that combat cancer, heart disease and viral infections. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg recently unveiled an initiative aimed at putting simple handheld versions of the FDA device into the hands of public health field workers in Ghana to help root out counterfeit malaria drugs.More

Quick surgery best for breast cancer in the young
MedPage Today
Delaying surgery for breast cancer in girls and young women significantly decreases their already lower survival rates, particularly if they are African-American or Hispanic, poor, or inadequately insured, a study found. Among younger women, a treatment delay longer than 6 weeks was significantly associated with worse 5-year survival compared with those who were treated within 2 weeks or within 2 to 4 weeks (78 percent versus 84 percent and 83 percent, respectively, reported Erlyn C. Smith, M.D., of Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange, Calif., and colleagues.More

Breast cancer drugs urged for healthy high-risk women
The New York Times
Should healthy women take drugs to lower their risk of breast cancer? An influential panel of experts said that the answer is yes, but only for certain women who are at increased risk because of breast cancer in the family or a personal history of breast lumps or other problems. Two drugs, tamoxifen and raloxifene, can lower the risk, and may be worth taking even though both can have serious adverse effects like blood clots and strokes, the experts said.More

Green cleaning and healthcare facilities
By Stephen P. Ashkin
In its simplest terms, green cleaning means cleaning to protect health without harming the environment. It refers to the use of cleaning chemicals, tools, equipment and other products that have a reduced impact on health and the environment when compared to conventional cleaning products used for the same purposes. While the adoption of green cleaning strategies has moved quickly in some industries, such as education, commercial offices and hotel/hospitality, it has moved at a slower pace in many healthcare locations.More

Mapping the H7N9 avian flu outbreaks
Scientists do not yet fully understand how the H7N9 avian influenza virus is spreading in China, or why the pattern of sporadic human cases looks like it does. But mapping the risks of known factors in the past geographical spread of avian flu viruses and human infections might provide some clues. More

Bioengineers build open source language for programming cells
Drew Endy wants to build a programming language for the body. Endy is the co-director of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology — BIOFAB, for short — where he's part of a team that's developing a language that will use genetic data to actually program biological cells. More

Video reveals cancer cells' Achilles' heel
The University of Manchester
Scientists from the Manchester Collaborative Center for Inflammation Research have discovered why a particular cancer drug is so effective at killing cells. Their findings could be used to aid the design of future cancer treatments. Professor Daniel Davis and his team used high-quality video imaging to investigate why the drug rituximab is so effective at killing cancerous B cells. It is widely used in the treatment of B cell malignancies, such as lymphoma and leukaemia — as well as in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. More

HIV vaccine trial shut down
Los Angeles Times
In another major setback for efforts to develop an HIV vaccine, federal researchers have shut down a key clinical trial after an independent panel of safety experts determined that volunteers who got an experimental vaccine appeared to be slightly more likely to contract the human immunodeficiency virus than those who got a placebo. Investigators involved in recruiting volunteers and running the trial at 21 sites across the country were ordered to stop immunizing volunteers with the genetically engineered HVTN 505 vaccine and to inform the nearly 2,500 people who participated in the study whether they got the vaccine or the placebo.More

Draft bill gives FDA authority over some pharmacies
The Food and Drug Administration would gain greater authority over pharmacies that compound sterile drugs and ship them across state lines under proposed legislation announced recently. The proposal from a bipartisan group of U.S. senators comes in the wake of a meningitis outbreak last fall that killed 53 people and sickened more than 700. More

Innovative cancer treatment has no side effects
Oncology Nurse Advisor
A new form of radiation therapy successfully put cancer into remission in mice. This innovative treatment produced none of the harmful side effects of conventional chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments. Clinical trials in humans could begin soon after funding is secured. More

Cancer centers racing to map patients' genes
The New York Times
Major academic medical centers are spending and recruiting heavily in what has become an arms race within the war on cancer. The investments are based on the belief that the medical establishment is moving toward the routine sequencing of every patient's genome in the quest for "precision medicine."More

More promise with immunotherapy in pediatric leukemia
Medscape Medical News
T-cells, one of the centerpieces of the immune system, can be genetically engineered to attack leukemia in children, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. More

Innovative cancer treatment has no side effects
Oncology Nurse Advisor
A new form of radiation therapy successfully put cancer into remission in mice. This innovative treatment produced none of the harmful side effects of conventional chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments. Clinical trials in humans could begin soon after funding is secured. More

FDA approved new drug despite ongoing investigation of lab misconduct
Pro Publica
Recently, it was reported that the Food and Drug Administration allowed dozens of medications to stay on the market, even though the research designed to prove their safety and effectiveness was undermined by "egregious" violations at a major pharmaceutical research laboratory in Houston. New information shows that even after the FDA had cited the lab for falsifying data and other misconduct, the agency issued a brand new approval to a drug tested there.More

Doctors denounce cancer drug prices of $100,000 a year
The New York Times
With the cost of some lifesaving cancer drugs exceeding $100,000 a year, more than 100 influential cancer specialists from around the world have taken the unusual step of banding together in hopes of persuading some leading pharmaceutical companies to bring prices down. Tthe decision by so many specialists, from more than 15 countries on five continents, to join the effort is a sign that doctors, who are on the front lines of caring for patients, are now taking a more active role in resisting high prices. More

Study finds no fertility drugs, ovarian cancer link
Despite lingering concerns that using fertility drugs might raise a woman's chances for later developing ovarian cancer, new research suggests the drugs don't contribute any added risk. Research on fertility drugs and cancer risk has yielded conflicting results. Some studies, especially in the 1990s, showed an increased likelihood of the cancer among women who took fertility drugs. Additionally, a Dutch report from 2011 found an increase in borderline tumors — those with abnormal cells that might not turn into cancer.More

Scientist shows how small molecules generate better stem cells
One of the difficulties of making patient-specific pluripotent stem cells for potential therapeutic use is that the process is so time consuming. The genetic approach to reprogramming, pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka who won the 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work, allows human cells to be transformed back into an embryonic-like, pluripotent state. The promise is that a patient's own cells could be grown and used to fight disease and regenerate tissue after an injury.More