Health and Fitness

Umbilical Cord Could Be New Source Of Plentiful Stem Cells, Say Pitt Researchers

Stem cells that could one day provide therapeutic options for muscle and bone disorders can be easily harvested from the tissue of the umbilical cord, just as the blood that goes through it provides precursor cells to treat some blood disorders, said University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers in the online version of the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. Umbilical cord tissue cells can be expanded to greater number, are remarkably stable and might not trigger strong immune responses, said senior investigator Bridget M. Deasy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine. The cells are obtained from the gelatinous material in the cord known as Wharton's jelly and from blood vessel walls. "Our experiments indicate also that at least 21 million stem cells, and possibly as many as 500 million, could be banked from a single umbilical cord after the birth of a baby, " she noted. "So, the cord could become an accessible source of a multitude of stem cells that overcomes many of the restrictions, such as limited quantity as well as donor age and donor sex issues, that come with other adult stem cell populations.

Amgen Receives CHMP Positive Opinion For Prolia TM Denosumab In The European Union

Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN) announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced a positive opinion for the marketing authorization of Prolia((TM)) (denosumab) for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women at increased risk of fractures, and for the treatment of bone loss associated with hormone ablation in men with prostate cancer at increased risk of fractures. If approved by the European Commission, Amgen would receive marketing authorization for Prolia in all European Union (EU) Member States. "Nearly two decades ago, Amgen researchers described a fundamental biochemical pathway that controls bone remodeling, " said Roger M. Perlmutter, executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen. "Armed with this information, our scientists identified a targeted therapy that acts via this normal control mechanism to reduce bone loss. Today's announcement by the CHMP offers the hope that this important new therapy will soon be available to European women with post menopausal osteoporosis, and to European men with prostate cancer who, as a result of hormone ablation therapy, have a significantly increased risk of fracture.

Vitamin D Levels Associated With Survival In Lymphoma Patients Discovered By Mayo Clinic And Collaborators

A new study has found that the amount of vitamin D in patients being treated for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma was strongly associated with cancer progression and overall survival. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans. "These are some of the strongest findings yet between vitamin D and cancer outcome, " says the study's lead investigator, Matthew Drake, M.D., Ph.D., an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. "While these findings are very provocative, they are preliminary and need to be validated in other studies. However, they raise the issue of whether vitamin D supplementation might aid in treatment for this malignancy, and thus should stimulate much more research." The researchers' study of 374 newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients found that 50 percent had deficient vitamin D levels based on the commonly used clinical value of total serum 25(OH)D less than 25 ng/mL. Patients with deficient vitamin D levels had a 1.

Risk Of Second Heart Attack May Be Significantly Reduced By Bone Marrow Cells

Cells from heart attack survivors' own bone marrow reduced the risk of death or another heart attack when they were infused into the affected artery after successful stent placement, according to research reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure. Benefits found early in the Reinfusion of Enriched Progenitor Cells And Infarct Remodeling in Acute Myocardial Infarction (REPAIR-AMI) trial could last for at least two years, researchers said. "More research is needed, but this gives us a hint of what might be possible with this new treatment - prevention of another heart attack and of rehospitalization for heart failure, both life-threatening complications, " said Birgit Assmus, M.D., first author of the study and assistant professor of cardiology at J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Researchers conducted the study at 17 centers in Germany and Switzerland. They randomized 101 heart attack survivors to receive a solution including progenitor cells from their own bone marrow.

Tendons Shape Bones During Embryonic Development

In all vertebrates, including humans, bones, muscles and tendons work together to give the skeleton its characteristic balance of stability and movement. Now, new research uncovers a previously unrecognized interaction between tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and the developing embryonic skeleton. This study, published by Cell Press in the December 15th issue of the journal Developmental Cell, demonstrates that tendons drive the development of specific bone features that are needed for a strong skeletal system. "Our skeleton with its bones, joints, and muscle attachments serves us so well in our daily lives that we hardly pay attention to this extraordinary system, " says senior study author, Dr. Elazar Zelzer from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. "Although previous research has uncovered mechanisms that contribute to the development and growth of each issue composing this complex and wonderfully adaptable organ system, specific interactions between bones, muscles and tendons that drive the ordered assembly of the musculoskeletal system are not fully understood.

ProChon Biotech Expands U.S. Clinical Study Of BioCart trade; Cartilage Regeneration System

ProChon Biotech, Ltd., an innovator of tissue regenerative technologies that are being developed to relieve pain and restore the mobility and quality of life for sufferers of articular cartilage injuries, announced a significant expansion of its clinical study of the BioCart™ Cartilage Regeneration System. The randomized, double-arm, open-label, multicenter Phase II study comparing the safety and efficacy of the BioCart™ System to microfracture for the treatment of symptomatic cartilage defects. ProChon will have ten clinical study sites in the US and Israel by end of this year. "The expansion of the BioCart™ clinical program represents an important step towards validating the potential of this promising technology, " said Patrick O'Donnell, chief executive officer of ProChon. "We believe that the BioCart™ technology addresses some of the major limitations associated with microfracture procedures as well as current generation autologous cartilage cell transplantation technologies.

An Atomic-Level Look At Bone

A new study using solid-state NMR spectroscopy to analyze intact bone paves the way for atomic-level explorations of how disease and aging affect bone. The research by scientists at the University of Michigan is reported in the Dec. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. "If people think of bone at all---and they usually don't, until they have a fracture---they think of it as an inert material, " said Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, professor of chemistry and of biophysics. "But like everything else, bone is also made up of molecules whose behavior is reflected in its structure, toughness and mechanical strength, making bone really exciting in terms of its chemistry and its contribution to health and well-being, " As scientists strive to understand the human body and its diseases in terms of molecular behavior, bone presents a challenge to most analytical techniques. "However, solid-state NMR spectroscopy is an ideal tool for exploring what goes on inside bone at nanoscopic resolution, " Ramamoorthy said.

NICE Guidelines Ration Affordable Osteoporosis Drugs

Low cost osteoporosis drugs are strictly rationed for the under 75s, and UK physicians hampered by restrictive guidelines, according to findings which appear in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, published by SAGE. A leading Cambridge University bone health expert has outlined flaws in NICE osteoporosis treatment guidance, which limits options for many postmenopausal women in the under-75 age bracket. According to Cambridge University Professor of Bone Medicine, Juliet Compston, the current UK guidelines are unnecessarily complex. Physicians following the guidelines treat postmenopausal women aged over 75 with low trauma fractures (known as fragility fractures) with alendronate. This drug prevents further bone weakening by preventing the loss of bone that occurs with ageing. However, physicians treating postmenopausal women under 75 with similar fractures have to demonstrate that the patient has bones scoring 2.5 or less on the 'T-score, ' a measure of bone mass, to prescribe alendronate.

Osteologix Inc. Announces Plans To File For European Marketing Authorization For Proprietary Osteoporosis Drug

Osteologix Inc. (OLGX.OB) announced that the company anticipates that it will be prepared to file a marketing application in 2011 in the European Union for its proprietary second-generation strontium therapy, NB S101 (strontium malonate). If successful, this will be Osteologix' first marketing approval of NB S101 for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Following the successful completion of the company's initial Phase 2 study comparing NB S101 (strontium malonate) to Protelos® (strontium ranelate), which is marketed by Les Laboratoires Servier (Servier), Osteologix sought feedback on its development program from various regulatory authorities. As a result of these discussions, Osteologix has determined that the company will be positioned to pursue a European Marketing Application for NB S101 as a treatment for post-menopausal osteoporosis. The company expects that it can complete the additional development work in 2010 and will be prepared to file a marketing application during the first half of 2011.

Bone Strengthening Drugs Linked To Lower Breast Cancer Incidence

New research from the US has discovered that women who used bisphosphonates, commonly-prescribed bone-strengthening drugs, had significantly fewer invasive breast cancers than women who did not use them. The study is the work of lead investigator Dr Rowan Chlebowski, medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), and colleagues, and the findings are being presented at the 32nd San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas this week from 9 - 13 December. The symposium is presented by the CTRC (Cancer Therapy & Research Center), AARC (American Association for Cancer Research), and the Baylor College of Medicine. "The idea that bisphosphonates could reduce breast cancer incidence is very exciting because there are about 30 million prescriptions for these agents written annually in the US targeting bone health, and more could easily be used to counteract both osteoporosis and breast cancer, " Chlebowski told the media. For the study, Chlebowski and colleagues re-analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a large observational study set up by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1991 to examine the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women.

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