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New medical technique might treat tumors

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          HEALTH TIPS - Thursday, February 15, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"

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           FDA approves DNA suture technology

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ap-
proved the use of sutures made from material isolated from 
bacteria modified by recombinant DNA technology. The tech-
nology uses living organisms to create chemicals that may 
be more difficult to produce under standard industrial 
methods. "The TephaFLEX Absorbable Suture is made from 
material that uses the latest DNA technology," said Dr. 
Daniel Schultz, director of the FDA's Center for Devices 
and Radiological Health. "This approach could have broader 
applications for medical devices that use this novel manu-
facturing technology." The FDA said it based its decision 
on the manufacturer's laboratory and animal testing that 
examined chemical composition, biological safety and 
mechanical performance of the polymeric suture. The pro-
duct is produced by Tepha Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. Doctors 
use sutures in patients to hold soft tissue together while 
the tissue heals from a deep cut or surgical incision. 
Absorbable sutures are made of materials that break down 
in the body after a short period of time. The newly 
developed sutures are contraindicated in patients aller-
gic to the cells or the growth media used to produce the 
absorbable polymeric material.

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         New medical technique might treat tumors

BERKELEY, Calif., -- A large U.S. animal study has shown 
certain microsecond electrical pulses can punch nanoscale 
holes in the membranes of target cells. The technology -- 
irreversible electroporation, or IRE, developed at the 
University of California-Berkeley -- does its work without 
harming tissue scaffolding, including that in the blood 
vessels. That is a potential breakthrough in minimally 
invasive surgical treatments of tumors, researchers said.
"I've been working in this area of minimally invasive 
surgery for 30 years now," said Boris Rubinsky, professor 
of bioengineering and lead author of the paper. "I truly 
think that this will be viewed as one of the most impor-
tant advances in the treatment of tumors in years. I am 
very excited about the potential of this technique. It 
may have tremendous applications in many areas of 
medicine and surgery." Rubinsky, who co-wrote the study 
with Dr. Gary Onik, director of surgical imaging at 
Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fla., is on a leave of 
absence from the University of California-Berkeley to 
develop the technology at Hebrew University in Israel.
The technique, which will undergo human testing this 
summer, is described in the February issue of the 
journal Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment.

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          New form of bone disorder disease found

BETHESDA, Md., -- U.S. scientists say they've identified 
a new form of a brittle bone disorder and have determined 
the genetic defect that underlies osteogenesis imperfecta.
The disorder is characterized by bones that break easily, 
and is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the pro-
tein type I collagen. The classical form of the disease 
is dominant, meaning a mutation in only one copy of the 
type I collagen gene is sufficient to cause the disease.
But now Joan Marini and colleagues at the National Insti-
tute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, 
Md., say they've identified a new recessive form of the 
disease, in which mutations of both copies of a gene are 
required. The research is to appear in the March issue 
of the journal Nature Genetics.

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