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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
New airway bypass for emphysema studied

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, December 20, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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              FDA approves a new beta blocker

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
approved Bystolic, a beta blocker, for the treatment of 
high blood pressure. Bystolic (nebivolol) is a new drug not 
previously approved for use in the United States. Beta 
blockers are a well-established class of medications that 
reduce blood pressure by reducing the force with which the 
heart pumps, the FDA said. Nearly 1-in-3 adults in the 
United States suffers from hypertension, which can increase 
the risks for stroke, heart failure, heart attack, kidney 
failure, and death. The FDA said the safety and efficacy of 
Bystolic was assessed during three randomized, double-blind,
multi-center, placebo-controlled clinical trials that ran 
for up to three months. A fourth placebo-controlled clinical
trial demonstrated additional blood pressure-lowering eff-
ects when Bystolic was given with up to two other antihyper-
tensive medications in patients with inadequate blood press-
ure control. More than 2,000 people received Bystolic during
the trials, the FDA said, with the most common side effects 
reported being headache, fatigue, dizziness and diarrhea.
Mylan Bertek Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Research Triangle Park,
N.C., is the sponsor of Bystolic. New York City-based Forest
Laboratories Inc. owns the rights for marketing of the drug.           

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         Breast cancer stem cells repressed in mice

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y., -- U.S. scientists at the Cold 
Spring Harbor Laboratory have isolated and repressed stem-
like cells in mouse breast cancer tissue. By manipulating 
highly specific gene-regulating molecules called microRNAs, 
the researchers said they were able to repress the cells 
that are widely thought to give rise to cancer. "If certain 
forms of breast cancer do indeed have their origin in way-
ward stem cells, as we believe to be the case, then it is 
critical to find ways to selectively attack that tumor-
initiating population," said Professor Gregory Hannon, corr-
esponding author of the study. "We have shown that a micro-
RNA called let-7, whose expression has previously been ass-
ociated with tumor suppression, can be delivered to a sample
of breast-tissue cells, where it can help us to distinguish 
stem-like tumor-initiating cells from other, more fully dev-
eloped cells in the sample. "Even more exciting, we found 
that by expressing let-7 in the sample, we were able to 
attack and essentially eliminate, very specifically, just 
that subpopulation of potentially dangerous progenitor 
cells," Hannon added.

          MIT works toward engineered blood vessels

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., -- U.S. scientists have created a tech-
nique that induces cells to form parallel tube-like struc-
tures that might serve as tiny engineered blood vessels. 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers said they 
found a way to control cell development by growing them on 
a surface with nanoscale patterning. The scientists said 
engineered blood vessels might one day be transplanted into
tissues such as the kidneys, liver, heart or any other 
organs that require large amounts of vascular tissue, which 
moves nutrients, gases and waste to and from cells. "We are 
very excited about this work," said Professor Robert Langer,
an author of the study. "It provides a new way to create 
nano-based systems with what we hope will provide a novel 
way to someday engineer tissues in the human body." 


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        Bacteria might cause bladder re-infection

ST. LOUIS, -- A U.S. study suggested that intracellular 
bacteria that commonly exist in women with bladder infect-
ions might contribute to the recurrence of such infections.
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine 
in St. Louis and Washington University in Seattle noted it 
was previously established in studies with mice that the E.-
coli bacterium avoids the immune system by invading cells 
lining the bladder, then replicates and ultimately reinfects
the urinary tract. The scientists said the existence of IBCs
found in the new study suggests a similar cycle might also 
occur in people and that longer treatment with antibiotics 
that kill bacteria inside human cells might be necessary for
some patients. 

          New airway bypass for emphysema studied
SARASOTA, Fla., -- U.S. medical scientists are joining an 
international team starting a study of a minimally invasive 
airway bypass treatment for emphysema patients. Researchers 
at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System in Sarasota, Fla., 
announced the start Monday of the Exhale Airway Stents for 
Emphysema Trial. The multi-center clinical trial will ex-
plore a treatment that might offer a significant new, mini-
mally invasive option for those suffering with advanced 
widespread emphysema. The study focuses on a procedure 
called airway bypass that involves creating pathways in 
the lung for trapped air to escape, thereby relieving emph-
ysema symptoms. "We are excited to be part of this study 
because currently treatment options for the emphysema pat-
ients are very limited and many patients have a very poor 
quality of life," said Dr. Kirk Voelker, principal investi-
gator of the study at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. "By creat-
ing new pathways for airflow with the airway bypass proc-
edure, we hope to reduce hyperinflation and improve lung 
function. If patients can breathe easier it is likely to 
improve their quality of life."
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       Heart protein linked to muscular dystrophy

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., -- U.S. medical scientists have disc-
overed a well known heart protein, NKX2-5, is linked with 
type-1 myotonic muscular dystrophy. Researchers at the Uni-
versity of Virginia Health System discovered that, in cases 
of type 1 myotonic muscular dystrophy, or DM1, NKX2-5 is 
overproduced in mice and people with DM1, yet it produces 
the same kind of heart problems associated with a deficiency
of the protein. The scientists said DM1 is the most common 
form of muscular dystrophy in adults and NKX2-5 is a bio-
marker for heart stem cells, as well as being very important
for the normal development of the heart. "Too little of it 
causes major cardiac problems including slow and irregular 
heartbeats," said Dr. Mani Mahadevan, a human genetics res-
earcher and a professor of pathology who led the study. Mah-
adevan said excessive NKX2-5 might explain why as many as 
70 percent of individuals with DM1 develop heart problems 
that cause their heartbeats to become slow and irregular, 
often necessitating the need for pacemakers. 

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