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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
A Nanoparticle Vaccine Is Developed

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, September 20, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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        FDA approves blood platelet bacterial test

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
approved for marketing the first pretransfusion rapid blood 
platelet bacterial contamination test. The Platelet Pan 
Genera Detection Test -- a disposable test strip for use by 
hospital transfusion technicians --is intended to supplement
current quality-control testing methods. "The clearance of a
rapid test is a significant step in the detection of bact-
erial contamination of platelets for transfusion," said Dr. 
Jesse Goodman, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics 
Evaluation and Research. Blood platelets are used to prevent
or treat bleeding in individuals undergoing chemotherapy for
cancer, after major trauma, during or after surgery and in 
individuals who don't produce platelets, the FDA said. Pat-
ients who are transfused with platelets contaminated with 
bacteria are at risk of developing serious and potentially 
life-threatening infections of the blood stream. Bacterial 
contamination of platelets is the leading infectious cause 
of transfusion-related patient fatalities. Although the new 
test system is less sensitive than standard cultures, it is 
done later in storage when bacteria, if present, have multi-
plied and thus are easier to detect, the FDA said. The rapid
test was developed by Verax Biomedica Inc. of Worcester, 
Mass.   

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        Cancer-causing gene activity is detailed

ROCHESTER, N.Y.,-- U.S. medical scientists have detailed the
activity of gene named JAK that's closely related to a com-
mon cancer-causing gene in humans. University of Rochester 
Medical Center researchers discovered JAK disrupts the act-
ivity of an organism's DNA on a broad scale, thwarting a 
critical molecular event very early during embryonic devel-
opment. By manipulating the DNA of fruit flies and analyzing
their body types as they develop as maggots, the team disc-
overed the cancer-promoting effects of a mutation to the DNA
sequence of a gene that normally suppresses cancer can be 
passed from parents to offspring, even if the mutation it-
self isn't passed to the offspring. Under some circumstan-
ces, having one parent with the mutation is enough to affect
the offspring, even when the mutation itself is not passed 
to the next generation, the researchers said.
  
  
           A nanoparticle vaccine is developed

LAUSANNE, Switzerland --Swiss scientists have created a nan-
oparticle vaccine that delivers vaccines more effectively, 
with fewer side effects and at a lower cost. The bioengine-
ering researchers at the Federal Polytechnic School of 
Lausanne said their newly patented vaccine delivery platform
might make it possible to vaccinate against diseases such as
hepatitis and malaria with a single injection and at an est-
imated cost of only a dollar a dose. The nanoparticle vac-
cine was developed by Professors Jeff Hubbell and Melody 
Swartz and doctoral student Sai Reddy. "If, as we hope, this
vaccine technique can confer sustained immunity with a sin-
gle injection for around a dollar a dose, without toxic side
effects, it could have a real impact on public health, in 
the developing world as well as right here at home," said 
Swartz. "More study is required to achieve these goals, but
we have every reason to believe this technique could be in 
use within five years." The research is described in the on-
line edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology.         

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       Skin cooling linked to post-laser problems

BANGKOK,-- A Thai study suggested a link exists between a 
cooling technique intended to protect the skin and post-
laser skin discoloration problems. The research by Dr. Wor-
aphong Manuskiatti and colleagues at Mahidol University in 
Bangkok suggested the cooling technique might increase the 
risk of hyperpigmentation in dark-skinned patients undergo-
ing laser treatments for mole-like skin lesions. The scien-
tists used laser irradiation to treat 23 Thai women with 
Hori nevus -- blue-brown pigmented spots on the skin that 
develop later in life. "One randomly selected face side of
each patient was cooled using a cold air cooling device 
during and 30 seconds before and after laser irradiation 
and the other side was irradiated without cooling," the 
authors said. The study showed the cooled sides were three 
times more likely to become hyperpigmented after laser 
treatment than the uncooled sides. The researchers said it 
was unclear why cold air cooling would increase the risk of 
hyperpigmentation following laser treatment. "Future studies
should address the question of whether the other methods of
epidermal cooling are associated with an increased risk of
post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation," they said. 
  
  
       Patients sought in medical clinical trials

NEW YORK,-- Cornell's Medical College and College of Agri-
culture and Life Sciences are developing a strategy to en-
hance patient participation in clinical trials. The project 
-- Improving Methods for Patient Accrual to Clinical Trials 
-- is an effort to increase participation in clinical trials
across the medical spectrum. "Low patient accrual in clin-
ical trials poses a serious problem for the advancement of 
medical science," said Professor John Leonard, an attending 
physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell 
Medical Center and co-leader of the study. He noted fewer 
than 2 percent of patients choose to participate in clinical
trials for cancer therapies across the United States. "This 
project is the first to assess the problem from a socio-
psychological perspective using the specialized methods of 
risk communication," said Assistant Professor Katherine 
McComas, principal leader of the study. "We will be using 
two proven approaches -- the model of Risk Information Seek-
ing and Processing, and Theory of Planned Behavior. These 
will allow us to examine specific factors that influence how
patients inform themselves about a clinical trial and decide
whether to participate." Future phases of the study will 
develop methods to help resolve common barriers to partici-
pation.        
 
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        Enzyme filmed attacking viral DNA

CAMBRIDGE, England, -- British-led scientists have, for the 
first time, filmed in real-time the nanoscale interaction of
an enzyme and a DNA strand from an attacking virus. Univers-
ity of Cambridge researchers working with colleagues in 
Scotland, Japan and India, used a Scanning Atomic Force Mic-
roscope to capture the image of a enzyme unraveling the DNA 
of a virus trying to infect a bacterial host. "This is the 
first time such a process has been seen in real time," said 
research leader Robert Henderson. "To be able see these 
nano-mechanisms as they are really happening is incredibly 
exciting. We can actually see the enzyme 'threading' through
a loop in the virus's DNA in order to lock on to and break 
it, a process known as DNA cleavage. "In the long term, this
could help in the search for cancer treatments, as cancer 
sometimes occurs where DNA is damaged, but enzymes do not 
behave correctly in order to repair it." The project was a 
collaboration of researchers at the University of Cambridge,
Kyoto University, the University of Edinburgh and the Indian
Institute of Science. This research was presented in the 
July 23 issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of 
Sciences.
  
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