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Personalized cancer therapy found valuable

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, May 22, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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          Function of liver molecule is determined

SAN DIEGO, -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered a mole-
cule in the liver plays a vital role in helping the body 
fight lethal bacteria-caused blood clotting. University of 
California-San Diego School of Medicine researchers said 
their finding solves the longest-standing mystery in glyco-
biology -- the study of complex sugar chains called glycans.
Until now, it was suspected the Ashwell receptor might serve
to remove abnormal proteins from circulation, but it wasn't 
understood which proteins were affected or what biological 
purpose the receptor served. The study shows the Ashwell 
receptor is essential in reducing coagulation abnormalities 
during infection and sepsis, significantly improving the 
probability of survival. Sepsis, a life-threatening compli-
cation of bacterial infection in the blood, remains a major 
cause of death worldwide, said Professor Jamey Marth, the 
study's principal investigator. He said a major factor con-
tributing to death in sepsis patients is a condition called 
disseminated intravascular coagulation, which accelerates 
blood clotting. The UCSD researchers discovered a protective
response, triggered by the Ashwell receptor, limits that 
lethal side effect by reducing the levels of circulating 
blood coagulation factors, including platelets. The study is
examined in detail online, in advance of publication in the 
June issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

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          New drug fights kidney cancer progression

NEW YORK, -- A U.S. study has found an experimental targeted
drug therapy significantly delays cancer progression in pat-
ients with metastatic kidney cancer. The data from the int-
ernational, multicenter Phase III clinical trial found the 
drug, everolimus, significantly delays cancer progression in
patients whose disease had worsened on other treatments. The
study was led by Dr. Robert Motzer, an attending physician 
at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "This study 
has given us a new and clearly useful tool for treating 
renal cell tumors, and everolimus is an important step for-
ward in terms of disease management and quality of life for 
patients living with this disease," said Motzer. Everolimus,
a once-daily oral therapy, targets the mTOR protein, which 
acts as a central regulator of tumor cell division, cell 
metabolism and blood vessel growth. It is currently being 
evaluated for the treatment of several other cancers, inc-
luding lymphoma and neuroendocrine tumors. Motzer will 
present the findings in Chicago during the May 30-June 3
annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical 

         Drug may become new breast cancer therapy

HOUSTON, -- A U.S. study shows Gefitinib, a once-promising 
drug for treating lung cancer, can enhance hormonal therapy 
for treating some metastatic breast cancers. The finding 
concerning the drug, also known as Iressa, represents the 
first positive study involving breast cancer for the entire
class of drugs known as epidermal growth factor receptor, 
or EGFR, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, said Dr. Massimo 
Cristofanilli, the study's principal investigator at the 
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. "We initi-
ated this study in 2003 with hopes of reducing the resis-
tance to hormonal therapy," said Cristofanilli. "There was 
a lot of preclinical work indicating that, in fact, resis-
tance to hormonal therapy is strongly associated with an 
activated EGFR pathway. Also, EGFR over-expression has been
associated with endocrine resistance. If there's a double 
blockage of the EGFR and the estrogen receptor, you may 
achieve better control of the disease." Cristofanilli will 
present the findings in Chicago June 1 during the annual 
meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

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        FDA OKs postsurgical drug for hospital use

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration annou-
nced approval of the drug Entereg (alvimopan) to help res-
tore normal bowel function after surgery. The FDA said it 
approved Entereg for use in hospitalized patients 18 years 
and older who have undergone partial large or small bowel 
resection surgery. "Patients who have undergone abdominal 
surgery and are on pain medications often experience prob-
lems eliminating waste," said Dr. Joyce Korvick, deputy 
director of the FDA's division of gastroenterology prod-
ucts. "Entereg will help accelerate their recovery, improve
bowel function and get these patients back on a normal 
diet." The recommended dose for Entereg is one 12 milligram 
capsule given just prior to surgery and then another 12 mg 
dose administered twice daily for up to seven days, not to 
exceed 15 doses. The product will only be available in hos-
pitals and will come in blister packs that are marked "HOS-
PITAL USE ONLY."  Entereg is manufactured by the Adolor 
Corp. of Exton, Pa. The drug will be developed and marketed 
by Adolor and GlaxoSmithKline of London.

        Personalized cancer therapy found valuable

BOSTON,-- U.S. medical scientists said they've conducted a 
trial that supports first-line use of targeted therapy to 
treat lung cancer. The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer
Center researchers said the study -- the first such U.S. 
clinical genetic screening trial -- supports the use of tar-
geted therapies as primary treatments, rather than only 
after standard chemotherapy has failed. Investigators found 
gefitinib (Iressa) treatment considerably improved the out-
comes for non-small-cell-lung-cancer, although additional 
research is required before such a strategy can be used for 
routine treatment. "This is a pivotal clinical trial that 
demonstrates the power of personalized medicine in lung 
cancer treatment," said Dr. Lecia Sequist, who led the 
study. "It is an exciting glimpse into what we hope is the 
future of cancer care. Instead of a 'one size fits all' 
therapy, we are moving towards finding the best treatment 
for each patient." The report appears in the Journal of 
Clinical Oncology.
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       Drug may be first to treat the common cold

ST. LOUIS, -- U.S. medical scientists say they've discovered
a smallpox drug might also target the adenovirus -- one 
cause of the common cold. The researchers at St. Louis Uni-
versity said their findings might lead to the first human 
testing of a drug to target the adenovirus, which not only 
causes the common cold, but also several severe upper-resp-
iratory infections. There are no drugs approved specifically
to treat adenovirus infections, in large part because there 
has been no animal model in which to test drug candidates --
a key prerequisite before testing in humans. Now, the SLU 
scientists and their collaborators report two breakthrough 
findings: an animal model suitable for adenovirus testing --
in this case using Syrian hamsters -- and a drug that succ-
essfully attacks the adenovirus in the animals. The drug, 
hexadecyloxypropyl-cidofovir is under development by Chimer-
ix Inc. as a biodefense agent to meet the threat of smallpox
or monkeypox viruses, and as an antiviral agent in trans-
plant patients. The SLU research appears in the early online
edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sci-

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