The FDA Gave Its Mark OF Approval For A New Drug For ALL

syringe with drug for all

The FDA announced that it has approved a new drug for ALL, a rare form of leukemia.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has approved the commercialization and use of a new drug, one that will target ALL.

ALL or B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a rare and rapidly progressing form of blood cancer. It is caused by the bone marrow producing too many B-cell lymphocytes, which are a type of immature blood cells.

According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 6,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with all this year alone. Some 1,440 will possibly die because of it.

ALL Patients Will Have A New Drug Variant

The FDA approved the use of a new drug for this type of blood cancer, one that can be utilized by adult patients. It was approved for those that tried other treatments that ultimately failed. The medicine can be used by adults with a relapsed or refractory ALL.

“These patients have few treatments available and today’s approval provides a new, targeted treatment option,” stated Richard Pazdur.

An M.D., he is the FDA director of the Oncology Center of Excellence. Dr. Pazdur underlines that patients whose disease returned or did not respond to treatment typically have a low life expectancy.

The newly approved drug is Bespona, and Pfizer Inc. commercializes it. Before receiving the mark of approval, this medicine’s effects were tested in a trial involving almost 220 patients.

Among those given Bespona, 36 percent saw their blood cancer for a period of eight months, on average. Among those to receive chemotherapy, 17 percent saw their disease in complete remission for an average of five months.

This new drug is believed to work by binding to the surface of the cancerous cells and as such, blocking its growth.

The medicine is injectable, but it also carries the most stringent warning from the FDA as it could cause severe adverse reactions.

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Scientists Are Using Micromotors To Fight Bacteria In The Stomach

micromotors scheme of the stomach illustrated

Scientists are testing the efficiency of micromotors in treating stomach bacterial infections.

A team of scientists is using tiny, autonomous vehicles or micromotors to test the delivery of drugs to try and clear bacterial infections in the stomach.

University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center Department of Nanoengineering researchers led this new study. They have been conducting trials on mice to tests the utility of their autonomous vehicles.

Micromotors to be Used to Fight Stomach Infections

The micromotors produced by the team are no wider than a human hair and are autonomous. These tiny vehicles were used to clear stomach bacterial infections by delivering the necessary drugs.

The tiny robots were constructed with a magnesium core, which then reacts with the gastric acid after being swallowed. After no more than 20 minutes, the micromotors should release a stream of hydrogen bubbles. These propel the tiny vehicles and send them where they need to go.

The antibiotics released by the vehicles are set to be released as the stomach’s level of acidity diminishes thanks to oxygen. This ensures the medicine’s effectiveness. The micromotors are biodegradable, so they do not require removal or extraction.

For their study, the team tested the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. It then used the clarithromycin as its model antibiotic. The tiny robots were then used over a period of five days in treating the affected mice.

According to results, having them administer the medicine resulted in a noticeable reduction of the stomach bacteria levels. Also, no side-effects or adverse reactions of the stomach function were recorded.

The research team stated that the standard stomach PH level was restored in 24 hours.

Researchers believe that these tiny vehicles show real promise for future treatments. Ones that make use of them in treating bacterial infections and also diseases.

“There is still a long way to go, but we are on a fantastic voyage,” stated Joseph Wang, a professor and nanoengineer.

The team released their study results in a paper in the journal Nature Communications.

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Binge Drinking In America At Critical Levels This Century

glass of beer next to a full plate

The increase in the drinking habits of Americans can have dire consequences in the future of healthcare

On Wednesday, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that almost 30 million adults in the U.S engage in binge drinking at least once a week. An almost same number reported alcohol abuse or dependency. The study highlights a trend that could have great implications for the costs of the U.S’s future healthcare.

The Rise in Numbers Includes All Demographics

The study shows that there has been a decrease in the numbers of young adults who drink. However, binge drinking in adults increased significantly and encompasses all demographics. What stood out the most were older Americans, citizens of lower incomes and education and minorities. Lead researcher from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Bridget Grant said that such jumps have not been seen in the last three or four decades.

A survey in 2001 first recorded the increase in alcohol drinking. A follow-up survey in 2012 resulted in an even bigger increase in risky drinking habits. The 2001 survey noted that 9.7% of adults engage in heavy drinking. The follow-up reported a 12.6%. This means that the limits set by the government of four drinks for women per day and five for men were exceeded at least once a week. The new study shows that women engaged more in binge drinking than men.

Alchohol abuse or dependence is roughly coming up to the same percentage. The 2001 survey reported 8.5% of responders admitting such behavior while the follow-up survey reported 12.7%. The surveys all featured standard questions regarding drinking habits and the difficulty of giving up these habits.

So far there is no certain explanation for the increase. The economic stress that followed the Great Recession might be a factor. At the same time, taxes on alcohol have been reduced and alcohol is available in any restaurant or retail store. Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences on health, including the risk of drunk-driving deaths and alcohol related violence.

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Scientists Implanted Stem Cells In The Hypothalamus To Slow Aging

brain implanted stem cells

Scientists implanted stem cells in a specific brain region to see if it could slow down aging.

A team of researchers found evidence that a particular brain region, the hypothalamus, might be involved in the aging process through the presence of neural stem cells. As these were noted to disappear with time, the scientists implanted stem cells to see if this could help expand the lifespan.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx scientists led by Dongsheng Cai, a molecular pharmacologist, are behind this new study. Back in 2013, the team detected that the hypothalamus could be playing a role in aging. They also concluded that reducing the inflammation in the brains of the mice might also help extend the animals’ lives.

Implanted Stem Cells to Help Extend the Lifespan?

Cai and his team conducted a follow-up study. Through it, they tried to pinpoint the exact stem cells involved in the aging process. According to the study, these could be the neural stem cells, which help generate replacements for damaged or dead cells.

The study, which was conducted on mice, noted that neural stem cells start disappearing as the animal is middle aged (around ten months old). They are also seemingly completely gone as the mouse reached old age (two years old).

To analyze if neural stem cells are actually involved in the aging process, the team carried out two separate tests. In one of them, they disrupted these cells in a group of mice. These rodents were then noted to be aging faster than normal, and to live less than the others.

“There was a decline in learning and memory, coordination, muscle mass, endurance, and skin thickness,” explained Cai.

The researchers also tested the opposite. They implanted stem cells into the hypothalamus of another group of mice. Follow-ups showed that these animals lived significantly longer than the others. For example, their lifespan was 15 percent longer than that of the control group of mice.

Although the technique and the results have been described as being “totally novel and quite unexpected”, this does not guarantee them as being applicable to humans as well.

It remains to be determined through follow-up research if this is similar or the same in people, as they are more complex. Now, the researchers will be looking to conduct a trial study on the matter.

Research findings are available in the Nature journal.

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Considering Oneself Lazy Could Actually Be Damaging To The Health

lazy man

Considering yourself lazy may reportedly be more damaging than actually being lazy.

People that perceive themselves as being “lazy” or less physically active could be harming their health in ways they wouldn’t even believe. According to a new study, these allegedly present a higher risk of dying young than people with similar activity levels but other perceptions.

Stanford University researchers are behind this new survey. They based their research on data gathered from three nationally representative samples. These included information on over 61,000 U.S. adult residents. Survey participants were monitored over a period of 16 years, in between 1990 and 2006. Mortality data for all the participants was collected in 2011.

Study participants were asked to answer various questions about their activity levels. Two of the samples had them self-report these levels, and to include type, intensity, duration, and frequency. For the other sample, the people involved were asked to wear an accelerometer. This measured their real-time activity throughout a week.

Being Lazy and Considering That You Are Lazy Lead to Different Results

All participants were also asked to answer a specific question. “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?”

According to the study results, the difference in between actual physical levels and the people’s perception of it was quite significant.

“Our perceptions about how much exercise we are getting and whether or not we think that exercise is adequate are influenced by many factors other than how much exercise we are actually getting,” stated Octavia Zahrt, who was part of the study.

Another surprising study find is that participants that perceived themselves as being lazy or lazier were also 71 percent more likely to die during the follow-up period of the study. The values remained the same even after controlling for the actual amount of physical activity. Or for age, chronic illnesses, and other health and demographic factors.

All study participants were asked to report their age, gender and race/ethnicity. They were also asked about their education, employment, and marital status, as well as other demographic and health data. They also had to self-rate their health on a scale of one (excellent) to five (poor).

The study team points out that they found a correlation, not a relation between the life expectancy and the perceived activity levels. Still, they note that other studies have indicated the importance of the mindset on behavior and health.

Current study results are available in APA’s journal Health Psychology, and further research is still needed.

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Soft Artificial Heart Is Capable Of Beating Like The Real One, But Not As Long

illustration of soft artificial heart

A team of scientists created a soft artificial heart capable of beating almost like a real cord.

A team of researchers managed to accomplish an impressive feat as they created a soft artificial heart prototype capable of beating almost like a real one. However, they still have their work cut out for them, as the prototype currently has a limited beating span.

A team of ETH Zurich Functional Materials Laboratory in Switzerland researchers are behind this new artificial heart. They managed to create it by using 3D printing technology and silicone.

The Soft Artificial Heart Is Almost an Exact Replica of a Real Cord

This heart prototype was designed to replicate a real human heart, as opposed to other existing blood pumps or cord replicas. The soft artificial heart employed the use of a 3D printer and is made out of silicone. It features almost the same compartmentation, only instead of two, it has three ventricles.

This additional chamber unlocks its ability to beat. The prototype weighs some 390 grams and has a volume of 679 cubic centimeters, which makes it a bit heavier than a real cord.

Its left and right ventricle are separated not by a septum but by the extra heart chamber. This acts as the cord muscle, as it helps move pressurized air that inflates and deflates the prototype.

The soft silicone heart can then beat as a regular real one, but only for some 3,000 times. About 30 to 45 minutes after it started beating, its silicone base starts breaking apart.

The research team is now working hard on improving its prototype. They will be looking to strengthen its material. Further enhancements will also have to help it function over longer periods of time. Still, as the research team states, this was solely a test, and their first target was creating an as real as possible heart. This in itself could open up a new path in organ replacement.

“This was simply a feasibility test. Our goal was not to present a heart ready for implantation, but to think about a new direction for the development of artificial hearts.”

Further tests, studies, and research will still be needed. But this is nonetheless an important step towards the creation of an as efficient as possible artificial heart.

Current study results are available in the journal Artificial Organs.

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FDA Approved First New Sickle Cell Treatment In 20 Years

sickle cell treatment and problems

Endari is the first sickle cell treatment to be approved by the FDA in 20 years.

In July 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new sickle cell treatment, the first in almost 20 years. Titled Endari, this can be used by patients aged five or older for reducing the severe complication associated with this disease.

“Until now, only one other drug was approved for patients living with this serious, debilitating condition,” stated Richard Pazdur, the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence director. He is also the acting director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s Office of Hematology and Oncology Products at the FDA.

New Sickle Cell Treatment, but Not a Cure

Sickle cell diseases is an inheritable blood disorder. This gained its name from the fact that the carrier’s red blood cells are shaped like a sickle or crescent shape. The shape also brings about a series of problems, as it restricts the flow of the blood in the vessels. It also limits the oxygen delivery to the tissues. This can lead to severe pain and even organ damage.

The National Institutes of Health approximates that there are around 100,000 people in the United States living with this disorder. Their average life expectancy is of in between 40 to 60 years.

Before approving the new sickle cell treatment, the efficiency of Endari was tested in a randomized trial. The patients involved aged from 5 to 58 years old. They had also had at least two if not more crises within a year before their enrollment in the study.

Participants were split into groups, at random. One of them receiving Endari and the other placebos. Both took the treatment over a period of 48 weeks. Patients that received Endari had to make fewer hospital visits. They also experienced fewer hospitalizations and generally spent fewer days in the hospital.

They also presented fewer cases of acute chest syndrome. This is a potentially life-threatening complication, which can develop with the sickle cell disease. All the results are based on a comparison with the same statuses presented by the control group patients.

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New Study Links Poor Sleep To Risk of Alzheimer

man with alzheimer

Scientists detected a new, possible link between Alzheimer and poor sleep.

New research co-authored by Dr. Barbara Bendlin from the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that poor sleep patterns increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers gathered samples of spinal fluid from 101 patients with a family history of Alzheimer’s or who had certain genes linked to the condition. Those who reported poor quality of sleep seem to present more biological markers characteristic of Alzheimer than those with regular sleep patterns.

Poor Sleep Patterns Might Lead to the Development of Brain Plaque and Alzheimer?

During the study, researchers looked for tangles. These can be formed into the nerve cells due to a damaged protein called “tau”. Tau tangles become toxic for the nervous system as they disrupt the structure of the cells. Apart from the beta-amyloid plaque which was linked to the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the tau tangles might be a step beyond.

Bendlin stated that, according to prior evidence, a disrupted sleep pattern might lead to the development of the amyloid plaque. However, the study tested just how much lack of or poor sleep can affect the nerve cells. Bendlin further stated that not all of the patients with poor sleeping patterns had abnormal markers in their spinal fluid. But the study does add to the prior evidence concerning the onset of the disease.

If the effects of poor sleep can be directly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, the opportunity for intervention might be available sooner. Thus, the number of cases might also be reduced. Bendlin added:

“If it turns out to be the case that an intervention which improves sleep also results in less amyloid being deposited in the brain, that would provide strong support for implementing interventions before people start to show cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The lead suggests that more research should be conducted. This could help pinpoint the link between sleeping patterns and the biomarkers. Currently, it seems that the two might well influence each other.

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Coconut Oil is not Good for your Cholesterol Level

coconut oil is not good

The AHA has found that coconut oil is not good for your cholesterol level

The American Heart Association has said that coconut oil is not good, because it raises the “bad” cholesterol just like other alimentary items do (butter, beef). The AHA has concluded that coconut oil is 82% richer in saturated fat compared with 63% in the case of butter and 50% for beef fat.

Coconut Oil is not Good for Cholesterol Levels

This is on the account that butter and beef drippings have a smaller level of saturated fat, which, in turn, increases the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This is the type of cholesterol that builds up in the blood vessels which, then, can lead to clot formation and heart attacks.

As such, coconut oil is not good for cooking, the AHA warns, recommending consumers to switch this type of oil with the polyunsaturated fats, such as corn, soybean, and peanut oils.

In a quote, Dr. Frank Sacks, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said that:

“Replacing saturated with polyunsaturated has a two-fold effect because a fat that causes heart disease is lowered and a fat that prevents heart disease is increased”.

Moreover, in 7 out of 7 studies that the AHA has reviewed for its advisory published in the journal Circulation, they have found that coconut oil raises the LDL levels as much as other ingredients (butter, beef, palm oil). They suggest that replacing the saturated fats found coconut oil with vegetable oil reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30%.

This is as means to fight against cardiovascular disease, which is one of the leading death causes worldwide. So much so, it leads to 17.3m fatalities per year. Because coconut oil is not good, the AHA recommends either a Mediterranean-style diet or the ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet’.

Dr. Lennert Veerman, of the Cancer Council NSW in Sydney, states that

“(…) a small reduction of risk every day adds up, so replacing coconut oil with olive oil may be an easy way to reduce risk a bit”.

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The Lone Star Tick Bite Triggers Red Meat Allergy

tick bite triggers red meat allergy

The lone star tick bite triggers red meat allergy, immunologists say. They have yet to understand the underlying mechanisms for this situation

Immunologists have found an increased rate of meat allergy induced by the lone star tick. There isn’t much data on how the allergy is triggered or why the immune system triggers it, but there are worrisome reasons that urge healthcare agents to caution people that are bitten by this tick to carefully monitor any sort of joint or muscle pain or other signs of allergy.

This Tick Bite Triggers Red Meat Allergy

In the past 20 years, there have been increasing reports of people that, after a lifetime worth of meat eating, developed sudden meat allergy. And as Summers has set its sails, MDs and other health agents worry that the number of such cases will increase.

The reason for which this particular tick bite triggers red meat allergy is that red meat contains some protein-linked saccharides, among them the galactose-α-1,3-galactose. The alpha-gal is the main ingredient in triggering the meat allergy. This tick bite triggers red meat allergy which poses a life threating danger, as individuals can develop specific symptoms which, if not treated in due under specialized care, can kill them.

All that the researchers know is that the ticks feed on deer. When they bite humans, their victims are exposed to the alpha-gal allergen, which is found in the deer blood still present in the tick.  This is what Andrew Nickels, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and an allergist at ASAP, said.

 “A susceptible human’s immune system then develops molecules called IgE that are specific to the alpha-gal allergen. Once this occurs, they are prone to have allergic reactions”, he further said.

The alpha-gal syndrome is a recent discovery, having less than 10 years of research behind it. The tick bite allergy has been more tested in the recent period to help scientist understand how the tick bite triggers red meat allergy and how it changes the immune system’s reaction to the said protein. For the time being, however, there isn’t a cure that can help patients regain their normal red meat diet. But the symptoms can be controlled through diet, doctors hoping that it passes in time.

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