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Antidepressant similar in effectiveness

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          HEALTH TIPS - Wednesday, January 31, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"


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          Antidepressant similar in effectiveness

WASHINGTON, -- A U.S. study finds the most commonly pre-
scribed antidepressants are similar in effectiveness, but 
with varying possible side effects. The U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Services study found about six in 10 adult 
patients receive some relief from the drugs, but experience
at least one side effect. The analysis, by the department's 
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, was based on a 
review of nearly 300 studies of second-generation anti-
depressants. It showed patients who don't respond to one of 
the drugs often try another medication within the same 
class. About one in four of those patients recover, accord-
ing to the review. "Second-generation antidepressants pro-
vide hope for many of the millions of Americans who strug-
gle with depression," said Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the agency's 
director. "But often trying to find the right drug is trial
and error, and in many cases relief is temporary or comes 
with serious side effects. It's clear we need more evidence 
to help patients and their doctors make the best choices."
The full report can be found at http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov

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          Diabetic retinopathy discovery announced

BOSTON, -- U.S. diabetes researchers say they've discover-
ed the protein that causes blood vessel leakage in the eyes
of people suffering from diabetic retinopathy. A team led 
by investigators from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston 
says the discovery might lead to new treatments for eye 
diseases and brain swelling caused by head injury, stroke 
and other conditions. Although health professionals have 
had success in treating diabetic retinopathy, two forms of 
the disease -- proliferative diabetic retinopathy and dia-
betic macular edema -- still are the leading causes of 
vision loss and blindness among working age adults in the 
developed world. Now the Joslin-led researchers have com-
piled the most complete inventory yet available of the 
proteins present in a part of the human eye known as the 
vitreous and have identified a group of proteins that may 
play critical roles in causing blood vessel leakage. The 
study appears in the Jan. 28 online edition of the journal 
Nature Medicine.

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          Autoimmune disease breakthrough reported

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., -- U.S. scientists report a breakthrough 
in the effort to better understand what causes the body to 
attack itself in its war against autoimmune disease. In 
some cases, the body's immune system overreacts when it 
encounters invading viruses or bacteria, thus resulting in 
one or more autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthri-
tis, lupus or type 1diabetes. Now researchers at the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Whitehead Insti-
tute, led by Richard Young and graduate student Dr. 
Alexander Marson, report discovering 30 genes that go 
awry in autoimmune diseases. The researchers say two 
significant implications have emerged from their research. 
"One is that we've identified this core set of genes that 
are probably likely to play key roles in preventing auto-
immune ... disease," said Marson. "The second implication,
which is maybe more long-term, is that we hope identify-
ing these targets will allow us to ... treat autoimmune 
disease. "The study appears in the journal Nature.

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