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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
FDA approves new heart pump

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, June 5, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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       New research in otolaryngology is reported

ALEXANDRIA, Va., -- The American Academy of Otolaryngology-
Head and Neck Surgery has detailed three studies focusing on
tongue cancer, ear infections and hearing implants. The 
Virginia-headquartered academy said University of Milano-
Bicocca researchers in Italy have found although oral cancer
is more prevalent in men, gender does not influence prog-
nosis. Based on this, the researchers concluded that employ-
ing a less aggressive course of treatment in female patients
with tongue cancer is not justified. A second study by Tai-
wanese scientists looks into speech performance when using 
digital hearing aids among the "young elderly" -- those in 
the 65-80 age group -- compared with people more than 80 
years of age. The study showed age plays no role in the 
improvement of a patient's ability to hear with hearing aid
implants. A third study focuses on pediatric care, looking 
into the cause and treatment of chronic ear infections where
fluid is present behind a child's ear drum. Results of the 
study conducted by Australian researchers indicate the pres-
ence of intracellular bacteria in the middle ear plays an 
important role in the development of inflamed tissue and 
mucus in the area. The studies appear in the journal Otol-
aryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

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             FDA approves new, tiny heart pump

DANVERS, Mass., -- Medical technology company Abiomed Inc. 
has announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of 
its Impella 2.5 Cardiac Assist Device heart pump. "FDA 
clearance of the Abiomed Impella 2.5 represents the next 
step in enabling heart recovery for patients in the U.S. 
and will likely change the standard of care in the catheter-
ization lab," said Michael Minogue, Abiomed's chairman, 
chief executive officer and president. "The device seamless-
ly provides immediate, minimally invasive circulatory sup-
port for critical patients. "The Impella 2.5 is inserted 
through a catheter into the patient's femoral artery and is 
then moved into the heart's left ventricle. Up to 2.5 liters
of blood per minute are delivered by the pump from the left 
ventricle into the ascending aorta, providing the heart with
active support in critical situations, the Danvers, Mass., 
company said. The device has been approved for partial cir-
culatory support for periods of up to six hours. Abiomed 
said the Impella 2.5 is now approved in more than 40 nations
for up to seven days of support and has been used to treat 
more than 1,500 patients outside the United States.

         Renal cancer prediction technique created

DALLAS, -- U.S. scientists say they've created a statistical
model to predict the probability of a renal cancer patient 
being cancer free 12 years after surgery. The researchers 
said their model, known as a nomogram, uses tumor and pat-
ient characteristics to maximize predictive accuracy. The 
scientists said knowing the likelihood of the cancer's re-
turn can help clinicians counsel patients and customize 
treatment recommendations. "If the cancer appears only in 
the kidneys, it can often be treated with a partial or rad-
ical nephrectomy," said the study's lead author, Dr. Ganesh
Raj, an assistant professor of urology at the University of
Texas Southwestern Medical School. "This nomogram is des-
igned for use in the initial counseling session after diag-
nosis and enables patients to have a clearer understanding 
of their cancer outcomes with surgery." The research that 
included the Cleveland Clinic, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic appears in the Journal 
of Urology.

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        Damaged brains helped by stem cell therapy

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., -- U.S. medical scientists say they have 
found a way in which neuronal stem cells in the adult brain 
might be used in treating brain injuries. According to some 
experts, newly born adult neuronal brain stem cells could 
help repair brain injuries, but first a way must be found 
to regulate the manner in which they are created -- a pro-
cess known as neurogenesis. The researchers led by Laurence 
Katz of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine 
suggest a way in which that might be achieved. According to 
the study, neurogenesis can be regulated through induced 
hypothermia. In rat subjects, a mild decrease in body temp-
erature was found to substantially decrease the prolifer-
ation of newly-born neurons, the researchers said. "Many 
questions remain before we adequately understand how to 
control these cells to repair a damaged brain," said Katz.
"However, the findings represent an important step in demon-
strating these cells can be controlled by simple external 
forces like hypothermia." He presented the findings last 
weekend in Washington during the annual meeting of the 
Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. Abstracts of that 
presentation appear in the May supplemental issue of the 
journal Academic Emergency Medicine.

        New technique for malaria control reported

LONDON, -- British scientists say they've demonstrated the 
feasibility of preventing malaria parasites from becoming 
sexually mature, thereby controlling the disease. Research-
ers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and 
the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute said the parasite -- 
Plasmodium falciparum -- is responsible for more than a mil-
lion malaria deaths a year. They said their discovery of a 
parasite enzyme could also have implications for controlling
the spread of drug resistance. "The enzyme we have discov-
ered, a protein kinasea, is essential for the development of
malaria parasite gametes," said David Baker, senior author 
of the study. "Working with genetically modified parasites, 
in combination with inhibitors of this enzyme, we have 
demonstrated that it is feasible to block the sexual stage 
of the life cycle of the malaria parasite. "This has excit-
ing implications in terms of improving how we go about tack-
ling malaria," he added. "If a drug can be developed that 
targets this stage of the life cycle, and combined with a 
curative drug, it would be an important new approach for 
controlling malaria transmission and the spread of drug 
resistance." The findings appear in the journal PLoS 
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         FDA reviews Enbrel, Humira and Remicade

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
announced a safety review of several drugs known as tumor 
necrosis factor, or TNF, blockers. The agency said the drugs
-- Enbrel, Humira and Remicade -- are being reviewed for a 
possible association with development of lymphoma and other 
cancers in children and young adults treated for juvenile 
idiopathic arthritis and Crohn's disease. The drugs suppress
the immune system by blocking the activity of TNF, a subst-
ance in the body that can cause inflammation and lead to 
immune system-related diseases. The FDA said it has asked 
the makers of the TNF blockers to supply information about 
all cases of cancer reported in children and young adults 
taking TNF blockers. While the review is ongoing, FDA adv-
ises doctors to weigh the possible association with lymphoma
and other cancers against the benefits of treatment when 
prescribing TNF blockers to children and young adults. 
Enbrel is manufactured by Amgen and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, 
Humira is produced by Abbott Laboratories and Remicade is 
manufactured by Centocor Inc.

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