Trial drug vastly boosts hepatitis C cure
VIENNA, April 16 (UPI) — Hepatitis C patients can be cured in 24 weeks when an experimental treatment is added to two established anti-viral drugs, researchers in Vienna said Friday.
Adding experimental telaprevir, an infection-treating protease inhibitor co-developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson, to established anti-viral treatments peginterferon and ribavirin, can cure 93 percent to 100 percent of patients infected with hepatitis C genotype 1, one of the hardest types to cure, said researchers at the International Liver Congress 2010, the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver.
Patients taking standard peginterferon and ribavirin alone have an average 51 percent cure rate, statistics indicate.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease chronically infecting 170 million people worldwide. It is one of the top three causes of cancer death in men and a major cause of cancer death in women.
Spread by blood-to-blood contact, the disease can lead to advanced liver scarring, known as cirrhosis, as well as liver failure or liver cancer.
Even after a liver transplant, the virus almost always recurs, statistics indicate.
The study presented Friday involved 161 European and U.S. patients who enrolled in a phase II trial, designed to see how well the new drug worked in various doses after its initial safety was confirmed.
“This trial is really helpful as it shows that patients with a good early virological response only need 24 weeks of treatment and that a twice-daily dose of telaprevir is just as effective as three times a day,” hepatology Professor Mark Thursz of London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine said.
“Although the number of patients in this study was relatively small and should therefore be treated with caution, I expect such findings will make an important contribution in terms of patients’ adherence to their therapy and overall treatment outcomes,” he said. “This will ultimately impact on their overall quality of life.”
New device detects chicken spoilage
WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) — A new instrument can quickly and precisely sniff minute amounts of poultry spoilage, officials at the U.S. government’s measurement standards laboratory said.
The new technique, developed by National Institute of Standards and Technology research chemists Tom Bruno and Tara Lovestead, can sniff out trace amounts of low-volatility compounds present early in the decay process, the U.S. Commerce Department agency said.
Analyzing such low-volatility compounds used to require long collection times to get a big enough sample for testing and identification, the agency said.
But the new technique follows a method very much like what Mom’s trusty nose uses — it samples the “headspace,” or the air above the spoiling chicken.
A short aluminum-coated tube cooled to a very low temperature gathers the low-volatility chemicals to its surface in a technique called cryoadsorption.
Bruno and Lovestead separated and identified six potential chemical markers that could be used to indicate poultry spoilage before it becomes unhealthy.
Those markers were found in the air above spoiled chicken breasts, maintained in their original retail packaging and kept at room temperature for two weeks.
Considering a typical American eats nearly 84 pounds of chicken a year, “this improved testing method for spoilage could have significant health implications,” the agency said.
Thinner girls: Higher breast cancer risk
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, April 16 (UPI) — Girls who are relatively thin at age 7 may be at higher risk of breast cancer later in life while a large-body size may be protective, Swedish researchers said.
Jingmei Li and colleagues at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, said the study involved 2,818 Swedish breast cancer patients and 3,111 controls.
The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, found a large-body type at age 7 was associated with a decreased risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.
“Although strongly associated with other known risk factors such as age of the first menstrual cycle, adult body mass index and breast density, size at age 7 remained a significant protective factor after adjustment for these other issues,” Li said in a statement.
In addition, large body size at age 7 was also found to be protective against estrogen receptor negative tumors, which generally fare worse, the researchers said.
“It appears counterintuitive that a large body size during childhood can reduce breast cancer risk, because a large birth weight and a high adult BMI have been shown to otherwise elevate breast cancer risk,” Li said in a statement. “There remain unanswered questions on mechanisms driving this protective effect.”
Minorities have more sleep disturbances
PHOENIX, April 16 (UPI) — Blacks and Hispanics experience more sleep disturbances than whites, affecting their quality of life, U.S. researchers found.
Lead author Carol M. Baldwin of Southwest Borderlands Scholar — director of the Center for World Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University in Phoenix — said researchers analyzed data involving 5,237 from the Sleep Heart Health Study, a multicenter study from seven U.S. regions. Eighty-six percent were Caucasian, 9 percent African-American and 5 percent Hispanic all age 40 and older.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found 46 percent had mild sleep apnea, 34 percent frequent snoring, 30 percent insomnia symptoms and 25 percent excessive daytime sleepiness.
Forty-one percent of Hispanics reported snoring and 32 percent of African-Americans reported excessive daytime sleepiness, while there were no statistically significant differences involving obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia symptoms by race.
“These findings support the need for sleep clinicians to use culturally-responsive sleep education, assessment and intervention approaches, as well as depression, anxiety and other relevant mood and socioeconomic-status,” Baldwin said in a statement.
Baldwin warned the study is correlational and did not allow for an analysis of causality.
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