Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stem cells 'to help beat MS in 10 years'

MS Society Comments on Stem Cells Story
Earthtimes - London,UK
Multiple sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological disorder affecting young adults and an estimated 85000 people in the UK have MS. ...
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Stem cells 'to help beat MS in 10 years'
Scotsman - United Kingdom
By HAZEL MOLLISON STEM-cell treatment could be used to help reverse the effects of multiple sclerosis within 10 to 15 years, a leading expert on the disease ...
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Stem cell research should be allowed
Irish Health - Ireland
... disease and multiple sclerosis. Stem cell research generally centres on cells that have been derived from human embryos because unlike adult stem cells, ...
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Scientists still looking for MS cause
Joliet Herald News - Joliet,IL,USA
By Jeanne Millsap special to the herald news Multiple sclerosis is another one of those mysterious diseases of the nervous system. ...
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Micromet Enrolls First Patient In A Phase 1 Clinical Trial With ...
ABN Newswire (press release) - Sydney,NSW,Australia
Additionally, EpCAM has been found on cancer stem cells of colon, breast, prostate and pancreas cancers. Cancer stem cells are believed to cause metastases ...
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Stem cells 'to help beat MS in 10 years'
The Scotsman Wed, 23 Apr 2008 4:01 AM PDT
STEM-cell treatment could be used to help reverse the effects of multiple sclerosis within 10 to 15 years, a leading expert on the disease said today.
Hormone therapy for MS?
WTHR Indianapolis Wed, 23 Apr 2008 2:20 PM PDT
Hormone therapy for menopause is under scrutiny for potentially negative side effects, but researchers are looking at possible benefits for multiple sclerosis patients.
Stem-cell treatment could reverse multiple sclerosis effects ‘within 15 years’
Daily Mail Wed, 23 Apr 2008 7:50 AM PDT
The effects of multiple sclerosis could be reversed with stem-cell treatment within 15 years, a leading expert on the disease said today. Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, the director of a groundbreaking MS research centre in Edinburgh, said the treatment could be used to help patients suffering from the condition that weakens their body’s central nervous system
Health: Pregnancy & Multiple Sclerosis
CBS 3 Philadelphia Wed, 23 Apr 2008 2:09 PM PDT
Paula Lizotte is a proud new mother who for years prior to being pregnant suffered with muscle weakness and pain. Her diagnosis was Multiple Sclerosis.
Stanford Research Shows That Inflammation Triggers Cell Fusions That Could Protect Neurons
Chronic inflammation triggers bone marrow-derived blood cells to travel to the brain and fuse with a certain type of neuron up to 100 times more frequently than previously believed, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Wednesday's Earnings Downpour
FOXBusiness - USA
Biotechnology company Biogen Idec (BIIB) says its first-quarter profit rose 24 %, boosted by sales of its multiple sclerosis drug. The Cambridge, Mass. ...
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Biogen Idec Reports First Quarter 2008 Results
FOXBusiness - USA
Revenues from AVONEX, one of Biogen Idec's therapies for patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), increased 19% in the first quarter to ...
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More Studies Show That Sleep Problems Are Likely To Cause Depression And Other Mental Health Problems
Mental Health Awareness Month, observed throughout May in the United States, increases awareness about mental illness such as depression. Mental illness is a significant health concern and, if left untreated, can have serious consequences.

New Campaign Launched During MS Week
The MS Society has launched this week's MS Week 2008 with a series of new adverts featuring images and words of people with multiple sclerosis (MS).The four new adverts encourage people living with the condition to explore the help that is out there, whether through the MS Society's branch network, self management courses, through online support forums, or via personalised care.

New York Times Examines Increasing Prices Of Specialty Drugs Distributed Exclusively By Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Main Category: Pharmacy / Pharmacist
Also Included In: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Article Date: 22 Apr 2008 - 7:00 PDT
The New York Times on Saturday examined how pharmacy benefit managers in recent years "have built lucrative side businesses ... acting as exclusive or semi-exclusive distributors of expensive specialty drugs." According to the Times, the practice is "seemingly at odds" with their stated intention of helping employers manage prescription drug plans and get drugs at the best prices available.
The prices of specialty drugs -- which treat diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C, and can be regulated as federally controlled substances -- range from about $5,000 annually to about $389,000 annually, and have been rising "much faster" than prices for mainstream drugs, the Times reports. Many large employers say their spending on specialty drugs is growing at more than twice the rate of the rest of their employee drug benefits.
Gerry Purcell, a health benefits consultant serving large employers, said, "We are headed right down into conflict alley with these exclusive arrangements," because PBMs "can raise the prices at will," and "employers will have little chance but to pay the bill." PBMs say providing employers with the best drug prices is still their top priority and have defended their involvement in the pricing of specialty drugs as necessary to keep track of the medications' use (Freudenheim [1], New York Times, 4/19). Effect on Medicare
PBMs also offer coverage through the Medicare prescription drug benefit, "and so are profiting from federal spending on specialty drugs and from Medicare patients' own high out-of-pocket copayments," the Times reports. According to Jack Hoadley of Georgetown University, many Medicare drug plans require enrollees to pay 25 to 33 percent of a drug's price when it is part of a specialty drug tier. Richard Frank and Joseph Newhouse, senior health economists at Harvard University, in a report published in the January issue of the journal Health Affairs wrote that driven in part by specialty drugs, prices of medicines heavily used by the elderly have increased by more than 24% since June 2006. The article stated that the trend does not bode well for "the worrisome future financial health of Medicare" (Freudenheim [2], New York Times, 4/19).
Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation© 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
Chemotherapy's Damage To The Brain Detailed By Researchers
22 Apr 2008  
A commonly used chemotherapy drug causes healthy brain cells to die off long after treatment has ended and may be one of the underlying biological causes of the cognitive side effects - or "chemo brain" - that many cancer patients experience. That is the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of Biology.
A team of researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and Harvard Medical School have linked the widely used chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) to a progressing collapse of populations of stem cells and their progeny in the central nervous system.
"This study is the first model of a delayed degeneration syndrome that involves a global disruption of the myelin-forming cells that are essential for normal neuronal function," said Mark Noble, Ph.D., director of the University of Rochester Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute and senior author of the study. "Because of our growing knowledge of stem cells and their biology, we can now begin to understand and define the molecular mechanisms behind the cognitive difficulties that linger and worsen in a significant number of cancer patients."

Cancer patients have long complained of neurological side effects such as short-term memory loss and, in extreme cases, seizures, vision loss, and even dementia. Until very recently, these cognitive side effects were often dismissed as the byproduct of fatigue, depression, and anxiety related to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Now a growing body of evidence has documented the scope of these conditions, collectively referred to as chemo brain. And while it is increasingly acknowledged by the scientific community that many chemotherapy agents may have a negative impact on brain function in a subset of cancer patients, the precise mechanisms that underlie this dysfunction have not been identified.
Virtually all cancer survivors experience short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating during and shortly after treatment. A study two years ago by researchers with the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester showed that upwards of 82% of breast cancer patients reported that they suffer from some form of cognitive impairment.
While these effects tend to wear off over time, a subset of patients, particularly those who have been administered high doses of chemotherapy, begin to experience these cognitive side effects months or longer after treatment has ceased and the drugs have long since departed their systems. For example, a recent study estimates that somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of the nation's 2.4 million female breast cancer survivors have lingering cognitive problems years after treatment. Another study showed that 50 percent of women had not recovered their previous level of cognitive function one year after treatment.
Two years ago, Noble and his team showed that three common chemotherapy drugs used to treat a wide range of cancers were more toxic to healthy brain cells than the cancer cells they were intended to treat. While these experiments were among the first to establish a biological basis for the acute onset of chemo brain, they did not explain the lingering impact that many patients experience.
The scientists conducted a similar series of experiments in which they exposed both individual cell populations and mice to doses of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in amounts comparable to those used in cancer patients. 5-FU is among a class of drugs called antimetabolites that block cell division and has been used in cancer treatment for more than 40 years. The drug, which is often administered in a "cocktail" with other chemotherapy drugs, is currently used to treat breast, ovarian, stomach, colon, pancreatic and other forms of cancer.
The researchers discovered that months after exposure, specific populations of cells in the central nervous - oligodendrocytes and dividing precursor cells from which they are generated - underwent such extensive damage that, after 6 months, these cells had all but disappeared in the mice.
Oligodendrocytes play an important role in the central nervous system and are responsible for producing myelin, the fatty substance that, like insulation on electrical wires, coats nerve cells and enables signals between cells to be transmitted rapidly and efficiently. The myelin membranes are constantly being turned over, and without a healthy population of oligodendrocytes, the membranes cannot be renewed and eventually break down, resulting in a disruption of normal impulse transmission between nerve cells.
These findings parallel observations in studies of cancer survivors with cognitive difficulties. MRI scans of these patients' brains revealed a condition similar to leukoencephalopathy. This demyelination - or the loss of white matter - can be associated with multiple neurological problems.
"It is clear that, in some patients, chemotherapy appears to trigger a degenerative condition in the central nervous system," said Noble. "Because these treatments will clearly remain the standard of care for many years to come, it is critical that we understand their precise impact on the central nervous system, and then use this knowledge as the basis for discovering means of preventing such side effects."
Noble points out that not all cancer patients experience these cognitive difficulties, and determining why some patients are more vulnerable may be an important step in developing new ways to prevent these side effects. Because of this study, researchers now have a model which, for the first time, allows scientists to begin to examine this condition in a systematic manner.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
Other investigators participating in the study include Ruolan Han, Ph.D., Yin M. Yang, M.D., Anne Luebke, Ph.D., Margot Mayer-Proschel, Ph.D., all with URMC, and Joerg Dietrich, M.D., Ph.D., formerly with URMC and now with Harvard Medical School. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Komen Foundation for the Cure, and the Wilmot Cancer Center.
Source: Mark Michaud
University of Rochester Medical Center

Article URL:

Main News Category: Cancer / Oncology

Also Appears In:  Neurology / Neuroscience,  Biology / Biochemistry,


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