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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Scientists Develop Implantable Telescope

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, August 16, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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       FDA OKs 50th & 51st anti-retroviral drugs

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
tentatively approved nevirapine tablets and a pediatric med-
ication used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus. The 
FDA said the pediatric triple-fixed dose combination tablet 
of lamivudine, stavudine and nevirapine is the first fixed 
dose anti-HIV product designed to treat children under the 
age of 12 years. The two drugs mark the 50th and 51st AIDS-
related drugs approved or tentatively approved for purchase 
under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The 
fixed dose combination comprises a complete HIV regimen 
taken twice daily and can also be dissolved in water for 
children who cannot swallow tablets. The FDA said the fact 
all three drugs are combined into one tablet that can be 
stored, distributed and administered easily is a significant
advance in the treatment of children infected with HIV. The 
FDA said its tentative approval means although existing pat-
ents or other factors prevent the sale of the products in 
the United States, the medications meets all U.S. manufact-
uring quality and clinical safety and efficacy requirements,
helping ensure AIDS patients abroad can receive the same 
quality of medications as Americans.

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         Scientists develop implantable telescope

BOSTON, -- U.S. scientists are exploring the use of an imp-
lantable miniature telescope for use in end-stage age-
related macular degeneration. The researchers, led by Dr. 
Kathryn Colby at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 
said although the device hasn't been approved by the U.S. 
Food and Drug Administration, they've developed a surgical 
technique to ensure proper placement in the eye. Age-related
macular degeneration is the leading cause of visual impair-
ment and blindness among people 60 and older. "At the very 
end stages of this disease, vision is very poor and quality 
of life is compromised," said Colby. "An implantable miniat-
ure telescope can improve the vision and quality of life for
patients but surgeons must be very careful in implanting 
it." The scientists said it's critical surgeons not view 
the first-of-its-kind device as simply an intraocular lens, 
such as used in cataract surgeries.
  
  
       FDA advises stronger diabetes drug warning

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said 
manufacturers of certain type 2 diabetes drugs have agreed 
to add a stronger heart failure warning on drug labels. 
Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart does
not adequately pump blood. The FDA said the information will
be included in the form of a "boxed" warning -- the FDA's 
strongest form of a warning -- emphasizing the drugs might 
cause or worsen heart failure in some patients. The FDA said
the warning involves the thiazolidinedione class of anti-
diabetic drugs. The products include the brands Avandia, 
Actos, Avandaryl, Avandamet and Duetact -- all manufactured 
by GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda. "This new boxed warning add-
resses FDA's concerns that … these drugs are still being 
prescribed to patients without careful monitoring for signs 
of heart failure," said Dr. Steven Galson, director of the 
FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and research. The streng-
thened warning advises health care professionals to observe 
patients carefully for the signs and symptoms of heart fail-
ure, including excessive and rapid weight gain, shortness of
breath, and edema after starting drug therapy. The FDA said 
the use of the drugs by such patients should be reconsid-
ered.

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        Coxibs, NSAIDs urged for osteoarthritis

CLEVELAND, -- A panel of U.S. arthritis research experts has
recommended the use of Cox-2 and other non-steroidal, anti-
inflammatory drugs for treating osteoarthritis. The panel, 
led by Professor Roland Moskowitz of Case Western Reserve 
University, said the use of NSAIDS must remain a significant
part of the treatment regimens for osteoarthritis. The panel
summarized the outcomes of an international workshop organ-
ized by the Osteoarthritis Research Society International 
and the International COX-2 Study Group, held earlier this 
year. The panel urges an evidence-based approach be taken 
when making recommendations to patients. The panel's find-
ings come in a controversy concerning the safest and most 
efficacious way of treating the disease in the face of adv-
erse reactions related to the gastrointestinal tract, part-
icularly with non-selective NSAIDs. A recent statement from
the American Heart Association made recommendations that 
are challenged by the panel, including a stepped care app-
roach to pharmacologic therapy for musculoskeletal diseases.
The panel's recommendations are detailed in an editorial 
appearing in the current issue of the international journal 
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.


          Scientists create cancer stem cells

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., -- U.S. scientists have developed a lab-
oratory technique that results in the creation of large 
amounts of cancer stem cells for use in experiments. The 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers said their
technique contradicts an assumption about the trajectory of
cancer cells. According to current cancer models, any normal
cell can evolve toward a malignant state through a series of
alterations, including mutations. Given the right alterat-
ions, any cell could eventually acquire the ability to in-
vade other tissues. But the new MIT study, led by Professor 
Robert Weinberg, suggests some normal cells are more prone 
to become tumor-initiating and have a higher potential to 
metastasize. The research, which included former postdoct-
oral researcher Tan Ince, Andrea Richardson, George Bell, 
Maki Saitoh, Samuel Godar and James Iglehart, appears in 
the current issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

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          Protein 'chatter' linked with cancer

HAMILTON, Ontario, -- Canadian scientists have determined 
so-called "cross-talk" between chromosome ends and protein
complexes might contribute to cancer development. Assistant 
Professor Xu-Dong Zhu and colleagues at McMaster University 
said their study sheds new light on the pathology of three 
related, non-curable cancer-predisposed human disorders: 
ataxia telangiectasia, ataxia telangiectasia-like disorder, 
and Nijmegen breakage syndrome. "The proteins whose defic-
iency is responsible for these three human disorders have 
the job of ensuring that chromosome ends are maintained and 
protected," said Zhu, lead author of the study. "As we age, 
our chromosome ends become shorter. Individuals whose ends 
deteriorate faster are at a higher risk of developing cancer
because short chromosome ends are a serious threat to the 
stability of our genome. When the genome becomes unstable, 
it puts our bodies at greater risk of cancer." Patients with
the diseases experience an accelerated rate of loss of DNA 
from chromosome ends. "We didn't know why this happens; now
we have found that the communication link between these 
proteins and a protein crucial for maintenance of chromosome
ends is either missing or non-functional in these patients."
The study appears in the current issue of the journal Nature
Structural & Molecular Biology.

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