Research and Development – October 2012

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Latest research and development.

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Arthritis
Diabetes
Cancer


Arthritis


Osteoarthritis Breakthrough Links Condition to Genes

British scientists have linked osteoarthritis – the most common type of arthritis affecting 1 in 10 Canadians – to 8 new genes. The genes are thought to be responsible for cartilage production, which is often diminished in osteoarthritis. Discovery of the genes allows for greater understanding of the mechanisms involved in osteoarthritis development and progression, and may help target new drug treatments. There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis.

arcOGEN Consortium and arcOGEN Collaborators. Identification of new susceptibility loci for osteoarthritis (arcOGEN): a genome-wide association study. The Lancet 2012 [Epub ahead of print].

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs May Improve Longevity

New evidence suggests that anti-TNF drugs not only improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but may also decrease the risk of heart attack and death. Anti-TNF drugs such as Humira are known as biologics and work by suppressing the immune system’s inflammatory response. Since inflammation is known to contribute to atherosclerosis and heart disease, it is thought that anti-TNF drugs decrease heart risk by reducing inflammation. Anti-TNFs may, however, increase the risk of shingles.

13th Annual European Congress of Rheumatology. July 6-9th, 2012. http://www.eularcongressnews.eu/mediabucket/eular_congress_news_2012_wed.pdf

 

Diabetes


Common Diabetes Drug May Lower Cancer Risk

Metformin, a commonly prescribed anti-diabetic medication, appears to lower the risk of cancer among diabetics who take the drug in comparison to those who do not. This finding comes after an intensive examination of several studies of long term Metformin use. The drug appears to be most protective against breast and colorectal cancer, two cancers that diabetics are more prone to than the general population.

Medical Press. In News. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-06-metformin-cancer-people-diabetes.html

 

Diabetes Drug, Actos, Linked to Bladder Cancer

Several studies have revealed that taking the anti-diabetic drug, Actos, may increase the risk of bladder cancer. In one study, the risk of bladder cancer increased by 22%. Other research studies estimate the risk to double with prolonged use of the drug. Even without drug use, individuals with type 2 diabetes have a 40% increased risk of developing this type of cancer.

Colmers, IN; Bowker, SL; Majumdar SR; Johnson JA. Use of thiazolidinediones and the risk of bladder cancer among people with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis

 

Anti-Psychotic Drugs May Increase Risk for Gestational Diabetes

The use of drugs for mental conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may increase the risk of pregnancy-induced diabetes, according to a Swedish study. Common symptoms of some antipsychotic drugs include weight gain, increased cholesterol and poor functioning insulin, which contribute to the development of gestational diabetes. However, the use of anti-psychotic medications without these side effects also appears to increase the risk. It is unclear if the increase in medication use results in gestational diabetes directly, or if it can be attributed to alternative factors, such as poor dietary and exercise habits.

Bodén, R.; Lundgren, M; Brandt, L; Reutfors, J; Kieler, H. Antipsychotics during pregnancy: relation to fetal and maternal metabolic effects.

 

Cancer


Using Skin Moisturizers to Treat Cancer

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois are using skin moisturizers to deliver gene regulation technology deep into the skin. The skin is usually very difficult to penetrate due to the various protective mechanisms in place to defend the body from foreign substances, making it difficult to treat conditions such as skin cancer. By using nanotechnology to shape molecules that can be recognized by the body, the drug can be administered to the appropriate site via topical treatments such as moisturizers.

Dan Zheng, D; Giljohann, DA; Chen, DL; Massich, MD; Wang, XQ; Iordanov, H; Mirkin, CA; Paller, AS. Topical delivery of siRNA-based spherical nucleic acid nanoparticle conjugates for gene regulation PNAS 2012 109 (30) 11975-11980; published ahead of print July 6, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1118425109

 

Female Smokers at Increased Risk for Blood, Immune and Bone Marrow Cancers

Women who smoke are at a higher risk of developing cancers of the blood, immune system, and bone marrow, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer. The study followed approximately 1.3 million women between 1996 and 2009, confirming that smoking is associated with an increased risk of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a cancer of white blood cells) and other cancers.

Kroll, M.E; Murphy, F; Pirie, K; Reeves, G.K; Green, J; Beral, V. Alcohol drinking, tobacco smoking and subtypes of haematological malignancy in the UK Million Women Study. British Journal of Cancer; advance online publication 9 August 2012 l doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.333