Friday, December 30, 2005

Experts make predictions for advances in health care in 2006

In case you're not too interested in the psychic predictions for the New Year...

From the first-ever cancer vaccine to a new drug set to take on "diabesity," 2006 promises to be chock full of health advances.

That's why WebMD asked thoughtful leaders in many fields to get out their crystal balls and tell us what's in store for 2006.

link to full article from WebMD

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Researchers find 'no evidence' that hangover cures work

'Tis that season too...

LONDON (AFP) - Just in case there were any doubts, new research has concluded that the best way to beat a hangover -- at Christmas time or any other time -- is to steer clear of alcohol in the first place.

In a timely paper in the British Medical Journal, published Friday, three specialists in complementary medicine found "no compelling evidence" that conventional or alternative treatments can stave off the dreaded morning-after.

"Until the pathology of alcohol hangover is understood in more detail," wrote Max Pittler, Joris Verster and Edzard Ernst, "an effective intervention is likely to remain elusive."

"The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol-induced hangover is thus to practise abstinence or moderation."

Hangovers can be a real headache, and not just for revellers who have had a few too many.

link to full article

Friday, December 23, 2005

South Korean Stem-Cell Researcher Resigns


SEOUL, South Korea - South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk resigned from his university on Friday after the school said he fabricated stem-cell research that had raised hopes of new cures for hard-to-treat diseases.

A university panel, releasing initial findings of a probe, accused Hwang of damaging the scientific community with his deception, while South Korea's government rued the scandal surrounding the country's star scientist and said it may pull its funding for his research.

"I sincerely apologize to the people for creating a shock and disappointment," Hwang told reporters as he was leaving his office at Seoul National University, considered the country's top institution of higher learning.

"With an apologetic heart ... I step down as professor," he said.

However, Hwang still maintained that he had produced the technology to create patient-matched stem cells as he claimed in a May article in the journal Science.

"I emphasize that patient-specific stem cells belong to South Korea and you are going to see this," said Hwang, a veterinarian.

Earlier Friday, a panel of Seoul National University experts said Hwang had faked results of at least nine of 11 stem cell lines he claimed to have created in the May paper — the first confirmation of allegations that have cast a shadow over all his purported breakthroughs in cloning and stem-cell technology.

"This kind of error is a grave act that damages the foundation of science," the panel said.

link to full article

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Reindeer shed light on sleep disorders

Tis the season...

Fatigue and health problems suffered by astronauts and shift workers could be better understood with the help of reindeer that live near the North Pole, scientists report today.

A Norwegian team has found that, unlike people, these reindeer have a weak body clock that is almost insensitive to the 24-hour cycle of darkness and light.

Living in the far north, the animals must cope with continuous daylight in the summer and darkness in the winter, so they must resort to other cues if they are to rely on their body clocks.

Prof Karl-Arne Stokkan, of the University of Tromso, and colleagues found by studying two sub-species of reindeer for a year that animals that undergo extremes of darkness and light "clock off".

link to full article...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cancer's road map to metastasis revealed

sounds like good progress...

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have discovered how cancer spreads from a primary site to other places in the body in a finding that could open doors for new ways of treating and preventing advanced disease.

Instead of a cell just breaking off from a tumor and traveling through the bloodstream to another organ where it forms a secondary tumor, or metastasis, researchers in the United States have shown that the cancer sends out envoys to prepare the new site.

Intercepting those envoys, or blocking their action with drugs, might help to prevent the spread of cancer or to treat it in patients in which it has already occurred.

"We are basically looking at all the earlier steps that are involved in metastasis that we weren't previously aware of. It is complex but we are opening the door to all these things that occur before the tumor cell implants itself," said Professor David Lyden, of Cornell University in New York.

"It is a map to where the metastasis will occur," he added in an interview.


Cancer's ability to colonize other organs is what makes the disease so deadly. Once the cancer has spread beyond its original site it is much more difficult to treat.

link to full article

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Talk About Biotech Measure

Biotechnology Future Investment Expansion Act of 2005, also known as BIOFIX...

Two Pennsylvania lawmakers who wrote legislation that they say can help spur research and development in biotechnology met with industry leaders Monday. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Penn Hills Republican, and Rep. Melissa Hart, a Bradford Woods Republican, earlier this year introduced the Biotechnology Future Investment Expansion Act of 2005, also known as BIOFIX, the federal legislation modifying Section 382 of the tax code to allow biotech firms to utilize tax breaks on their net operating losses. Currently, to help pay for the process of getting drugs and treatments approved, companies often have to undertake equity financing that triggers ownership changes, preventing the companies from claiming net operating losses. It takes about 10 years to develop a new drug or treatment and the cost is between $500 million and $800 million. "Currently, limitations imposed in the tax code prevent many biotech startups from taking advantage of tax incentives," Santorum said in a statement. "By updating this provision in the tax code to meet the needs of the biotechnology sector, companies are encouraged to expand their research," he said. Steve Zylstra of the Pittsburgh Technology Council was among the attendees for the roundtable discussion at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse in Hazelwood. He said the measure could "encourage new investment." "The BIOFIX Act of 2005 attempts to foster innovation, spur research and development and create cutting-edge high technology jobs by removing an unnecessary barrier in our federal tax code currently hampering the development of emerging biotechnology companies," he said in a statement.

link to article from