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Health Watch - April

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Health Watch - April


Older heart patients are to be studied to determine whether angiogram benefits outweigh the risks. Patients aged 70-plus face greater risks statistically of bleeding and vessel damage from angiograms, so fewer of them receive angioplasties, stents and bypasses. The trial will recruit patients over 75 who had heart attacks in which coronaries were partly blocked. Some will have angiograms and appropriate treatment, possibly angioplasty, a bypass or heart medication. The others will have only medication. The effectiveness and risks will be compared after five years. The project, run from the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, by Dr Vijay Kunadian, with £1.7m from the British Heart Foundation, is expected to involve 30 to 40 UK centres. Dr Kunadian hopes next to assess how heart problems affect the brain.



Suffering the inflammatory gum disease periodontitis for ten years has been
found to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s 1,707-fold. Peripheral infections, blood vessel damage and oxidative stress were thought to aggravate brain inflammation and to be significant in causing dementia. Other studies have linked chronic periodontitis to many inflammatory conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. Taiwanese specialists say their findings emphasise the need to concentrate on periodontal disease. They studied 9,291 chronic periodontitis patients and 18,672 healthy volunteers.


A fluorescent marker that adheres to cell proteins when injected and provides early glaucoma detection has been developed by teams at the Western Eye Hospital and University College London. The dead cells appear on examination as white fluorescent spots. The work, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is being continued to achieve its potential for early diagnosis of other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The test could eventually be used by opticians.


A worldwide genetic study centred on Leicester University has begun into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema, persistent bronchitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – the commonest condition for which lung transplants are given. Researchers will study genetic and other data to explain why some people develop these diseases and why symptoms vary among patients. They hope analysis will lead to personalised treatments. The work is funded by the university, GlaxoSmithKline and the British Lung Foundation, which has contributed £400,000.


Parasitic worm secretions could produce a new asthma therapy. Edinburgh University researchers have found that a protein, being called HpARI, in the secretions blocks the molecule IL-33, which is strongly linked to asthma. They are now testing laboratory- made HpARI, as potential medication. Dr Henry McSorley hopes HpARI will be available as a treatment within ten years.


Analysis of drug interactions with molecules in the body, being conducted at the University of East Anglia, could produce more efficient treatments and fewer side effects. The study, using MRI techniques, shows which parts of a target protein interact with a drug and which amino acids are involved in binding to it. The information will allow researchers to determine the chemical components to make more selective and effective drugs for many treatments.


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