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FDA OKs drug to treat rare blood disorde

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            HEALTH TIPS - Thursday, March 22, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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    FDA OKs drug to treat rare blood disorder

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
approved Soliris (eculizumab), the first drug produced for 
the treatment of a rare blood disorder. The disorder, 
paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, or PNH, can lead to 
disability and premature death. Soliris is classified as an 
orphan drug -- a pharmaceutical developed to treat fewer 
than 200,000 people. Orphan status gives the drug's 
manufacturer a seven-year period in which to exclusively 
market the compound. Soliris, is manufactured by Alexion 
Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cheshire, Conn. "This product is 
important in that it offers a treatment other than blood 
transfusion that may help this small population of patients 
who are often very ill," said Dr. Steven Galson, director of
the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. PNH, 
which usually develops in adults, is a disease characterized
by red blood cells that develop abnormally Depending upon 
the severity of the disorder, patients with PNH may 
experience pain, fatigue, debilitating weakness, blood 
clots, and life-threatening or fatal strokes, heart attacks
and intestinal disease. They often need frequent blood 
transfusions. Soliris does not cure PNH, but treats the 
breakdown of red blood cells.

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      Probiotic bacteria cuts salmonella in pigs

CORK, Ireland,  -- Irish scientists have found
treatment with probiotic bacteria can reduce Salmonella 
infections in pigs and might have potential human appli-
cations. Salmonella is one of the major causes of food-borne
gastroenteritis worldwide. Probiotics are live micro-
organisms believed to promote a health benefit in the host 
when administered in controlled amounts. In the study, led 
by Pat Casey of University College in Cork, Ireland, the 
researchers divided pigs into two groups, one of which 
received milk containing five lactic acid bacteria probiotic
strains and the other, serving as a control group, received 
regular milk for 30 days. Following 6 days of treatment the
pigs were exposed orally with Salmonella bacteria and their 
health was then monitored for 23 days. The researchers 
reported pigs receiving probiotic treatment showed reduced
incidence, severity, and duration of diarrhea, as well as 
significantly lower numbers of Salmonella in fecal samples
15 days post-infection. "The administered probiotic bacteria
improved both the clinical and microbiological outcome of 
Salmonella infection," said the researchers. "These strains
offer significant benefit for use in the food industry and 
may have potential in human applications." The research is 
detailed in the March issue of the journal Applied and 
Environmental Microbiology.

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    Compound may fight Kennedy's disease

ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 21 (UPI) -- U.S. cancer scientists 
have discovered a compound that shows promise against a 
debilitating neurodegenerative condition known as Kennedy's 
disease. There is currently no treatment for the inherited 
disorder that is caused by a mutant gene and which resembles
a slowly progressive form of Lou Gehrig's disease. It 
affects only men. The compound discovered at the University 
of Rochester Medical Center is a distant chemical relative 
of a component of the spice curry. Researchers said it 
dramatically slowed the progression of the disease in mice,
allowing them to walk much more normally, maintain stronger 
muscles and near-normal levels of a molecule crucial for 
keeping nerve cells healthy. While more research is needed 
to determine whether the compound could be developed into a 
drug to help people with the disease, scientists say it's a 
promising development in a field where progress has been 
slow. Chawnshang Chang and colleagues report their research 
in the March 6 issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

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