- Early phase studies of platelet stimulating protein show promise
- More good from cranberries
- Easier blood sticks
- Spice may have health benefits
- Vegetables are good for the mind
- Best antioxidant food choices
- Hospitals going green
- Don’t flush expired meds
- Patient feedback needed on statins
- Blue light helps sleep
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EARLY PHASE STUDIES OF PLATELET-STIMULATING PROTEIN SHOW PROMISE
Two teams of researchers conducted phase 1-2 studies of a protein to stimulate platelet development in patients with ITP [Existing treatments work to reduce platelet destruction or stop production of antibodies against platelets]. The protein, dubbed AMG 531 by its maker, Amgen, Inc., is given by injection. One trial included 16 patients treated at several centers in Europe, the other enrolled 24 (in phase 1) and 21 (in phase 2) in 9 U.S. centers. AMG 531 caused some adverse events, but none were considered major and platelet counts increased in some patients. Both studies were funded by Amgen. The main aim of these early phase studies is to assess safety and begin exploring efficacy. Further studies will examine dosing questions and evaluate the durability of the platelet response.
Bussel JB, Kuter DJ, George JN, McMillan R, Aledort LM, Conklin GT, Lichtin AE, Lyons RM, Nieva J, Wasser JS, Wiznitzer I, Kelly R, Chen C-F, Nichols JL. AMG 531, a thrombopoiesis-stimulating protein, for chronic immune thrombocytopenia purpura. N Engl J Med 355:1672-1681.
Newland A, Caulier MT, Kappers-Klunne M, Schipperus MR, Lefrere F, Zwaginga JJ, Christal J, Chen C-F, Nichol JL. An open-label, unit dose-finding study of AMG 531, a novel thrombopoiesis-stimulating peptibody, in patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura. British Journal of Haematology, 135,547-553.
MORE GOOD FROM CRANBERRIES
Cranberries, which are high in antioxidants, are credited with reducing bladder infections because they prevent the bacteria, E. coli, from adhering to the bladder wall and multiplying to cause bladder infections. Now cranberries are getting credit for thwarting another bacteria, H. pylori. H. pylori is the bacteria responsible for most stomach ulcers, and cranberries may help protect the body by stopping H. Pylori from adhering to the stomach lining. [From PDSA: This is worth noting for patients with ITP because several published studies have associated eradicating H. Pylori with ITP going into remission.]
Environmental Nutrition, November 2006, pg. 8.
EASIER BLOOD STICKS
A new device using infrared light is helping nurses and phlebotomists locate veins to draw blood. The device is making venipuncture less painful and less stressful for patients with veins that are difficult to see. The VeinViewer, from Luminetx, Corp., Memphis Tenn, is available in about 100 hospitals nationwide. It uses infrared light and contrasting green light to make veins look dark gray—easier to see—against a green background. No published clinical trials discuss its effectiveness, but clinicians who have used it appear impressed.
Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2006, pg. D2.
SPICE MAY HAVE HEALTH BENEFITS
A study of turmeric extract in rats with artificially induced rheumatoid arthritis found that injections of the extract reduced joint swelling and tissue destruction by blocking a specific inflammatory pathway, the NF-Kappa B pathway. The researcher, from the University of Arizona, warns that turmeric-based supplements found in health food stores do not often contain the amount of turmeric shown on the label, and much research still needs to be done. The study was published in the November issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Washington Post, October 30, 2006, page A6.
VEGETABLES ARE GOOD FOR THE MIND
Eating two or more servings of vegetables a day may slow a person’s mental decline by about 40 percent compared with people who eat fewer vegetables, according to a study published in the October 24 issue of Neurology. And it may never be too late to reap the benefit of vegetables. Older people who started eating more vegetables each day showed a significant delay in mental decline.
Washington Post, October 24, 2006, pg. A3
BEST ANTIOXIDANT FOOD CHOICES
Antioxidants help deactivate the free radicals that damage cells and promote chronic disease. A new analysis of total antioxidant activity in foods yielded a list of the top 300 antioxidant foods. The top 14 foods/beverages are: blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, brewed coffee, raspberries, pecans, blueberries, cloves, grape juice, unsweetened baking chocolate, sour cherries, and red wine. The report, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, notes that antioxidants are pretty well preserved during processing or cooking. Removing the peel from some produce, such as apples and cucumbers, cuts the antioxidant content in about half.
UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, November 2006, pg. 5.
HOSPITALS GOING GREEN
To cut toxins and improve their patient environments, some cutting-edge hospitals are going with “green” construction. They are building or renovating to standards set by the Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC.org), by the U.S. Green Building Council. Not a moment too soon, say environmental health experts, who warn that materials that cover floors, walls and ceilings release hundreds of chemicals into hospital air. Even IV and blood bags, plastic tubing, and other hospitals products, including carpets, contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which releases the carcinogen dioxin. Poor ventilation and high energy consumption also contribute to pollution and poor air quality. Pressure from local and state governments and environmentally conscious donors is moving hospitals to build more efficient, eco-friendly facilities that conserve energy and reduce potentially dangerous emissions.
Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2006, page D1.
DON’T FLUSH EXPIRED MEDS
Trace amounts of antibiotics, acetaminophen, tranquilizers, and other common drugs have been found in rivers, streams, and treated water, according to the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. The long-term impact is unknown, but it is best to ask your doctor or pharmacy if they will take medicines for disposal, or bring them to a local household hazardous waste facility. As a last resort, throw unwanted or expired medications in the trash, closed in their original containers or otherwise securely wrapped.
UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, November 2006, pg. 8.
PATIENT FEEDBACK NEEDED ON STATINS
A new website has been launched to collect data on the side effects of statin drugs, which are used for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attack. Statins are sold under the brand names Lipitor, Zocor and others. University of California-San Diego researchers created the Statin Effects Survey site www.statineffects.com because of flaws they see in the current system for reporting adverse events with the Food and Drug Administration. The aim is to help doctors get a clearer understanding of statin side effects, such as muscle aches and memory loss. Patients interested in describing their experiences with statin drugs must first register with the web site. All patient information is confidential. (Note: Some people have told us that statins reduced their platelet count)
Parker-Pope T. Researchers ask patients to help fill gap in data on side effects of statins. Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2006, page D1.
BLUE LIGHT HELPS SLEEP
The October 2006 AARP Bulletin reported a study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that blue light might be the answer to restless nights. Doses of blue light, as little as 30 minutes, work better than full-spectrum light, which has been used for years to fight off sleep disorders and winter depression. Older people exposed to blue light early in the evening are much more likely to sleep through the night, as are Alzheimer’s patients who get two hours of exposure of blue light. Blue light boxes are available commercially, but vary considerably in quality. Get a recommendation from a health professional.