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  • June 22, 2016 9:29 AM | Deleted user

    The itchy, red welts that appear after being bitten by a mosquito may help any viruses the insect is carrying pass on to a new host. A mouse study published June 21 in Immunity suggests that the swelling and irritation that make mosquito bites so unpleasant may provide a mechanism by which viruses like Zika are able to replicate and spread. "Before we did this study, little was known about the events and processes that occur at mosquito bite sites," says Clive McKimmie, a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds and the paper's senior author. 

    "Our findings suggest that the inflammatory response at these sites helps viruses to replicate, enhancing their ability to cause disease." In the new research, the investigators used mouse models to study the bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species that spreads infections such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. When a mosquito bites, it injects saliva into the skin. The saliva triggers an immune response, in which white blood cells called neutrophils and myeloid cells rush to the site. In this study, the team injected mice with viruses into the skin with or without the presence of a mosquito bite at the injection site and compared the reaction. 

    They found that instead of helping, some of these immune cells get infected and inadvertently replicate virus. In the absence of mosquito bites and their accompanying inflammation, the viruses failed to replicate well. But the presence of mosquito bites at the infection site resulted in an order of magnitude higher levels of virus. Further studies showed that the influx of white blood cells was required for enhanced replication of the viruses. According to McKimmie, previous studies that have used in vivo models to study the course of mosquito­borne infections 6/22/2016 Inflammation from mosquito bites may enhance viral infection haven't looked at the bite as a necessary component. 

    "We think the bite itself is affecting the systemic course and clinical outcome of the infection," he says. "If you want an in vivo model that replicates the most relevant parts of infection, you should include this inflammatory aspect." "This was a big surprise we didn't expect," he adds. "These viruses are not known for infecting immune cells. And sure enough, when we stopped these immune cells from coming in, the bite did not enhance the infection anymore." Although this research is still early work done in mice, McKimmie says the finding suggests new approaches for combating viruses that lead to health problems in humans.

     "We're quite keen to see if using topical creams to suppress bite inflammation will enable you to stop a virus from making someone as sick as it otherwise would do," he says. He notes that if it's proven effective, this approach could work against future virus outbreaks that we don't know about yet. "Nobody expected Zika, and before that nobody expected chikungunya," he says.

     "There are estimated to be hundreds of other mosquito­borne viruses out there and it's hard to predict what's going to start the next outbreak." More information: Immunity, Pingen et al: "Host inflammatory response to mosquito bites enhances severity of arbovirus infection."­7613(16)30205­9 , DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.06.002 Provided by Cell Press "Inflammation from mosquito bites may enhance viral infection" June 21, 2016­06­inflammation­mosquito­viralinfection.html

  • June 22, 2016 9:27 AM | Deleted user

    Written by Honor Whiteman

    Published: Tuesday 21 June 2016

    Researchers have identified an existing drug that they say has the potential to prevent or delay breast cancer for women at high risk of developing the disease.

    [Breast cancer cells]
    Researchers found the drug denosumab stopped the growth of cells that are a precursor to breast cancer in women with a BRCA1 gene mutation.

    In a study published the journal Nature Medicine, researchers reveal how the drug denosumab halted the growth of pre-cancerous cells in breast tissue of women with a faulty BRCA1 gene.

    Women with a BRCA1 gene mutation are at significantly greater risk for breast and ovarian cancers; around 55-65 percent of women with such a mutation will develop the disease by the age of 70, according to the National Cancer Institute, compared with 12 percent of those in the general population.

    At present, the only way for women with a BRCA1 mutation to significantly reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancers is to opt for a mastectomy - the surgical removal of one or both breasts - or an oophorectomy - the removal of the ovaries.

    But in this latest study, Prof. Geoff Lindeman, of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Australia, and colleagues show promise for a non-surgical alternative.

    Uncovering the 'holy grail' of cancer research

    To reach their findings, the team analyzed a number of breast tissue samples from women with and without a BRCA1 mutation.

    Fast facts about breast cancer

    • This year, around 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancerwill be diagnosed in the U.S.
    • Around 40,450 women will die from breast cancer in 2016
    • There are currently more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

    Learn more about breast cancer

    From this, they identified cells in the breast tissue from women with a BRCA1 mutation that act as a precursor to breast cancer.

    "These cells proliferated rapidly, and were susceptible to damage to their DNA - both factors that help them transition towards cancer," explains study co-author Prof. Emma Nolan, of the Department of Medical Biology at The University of Melbourne, Australia.

    What is more, the researchers found that a protein called RANK acted as a marker for these pre-cancerous cells - a finding that excited the team, given that there are already drugs in clinical use that target and block the RANK pathways.

    As such, the researchers decided to investigate how one of these drugs - known as RANK ligand inhibitors - would affect the progression of pre-cancerous breast cells.

    They focused on a medication called denosumab, which is currently used to treatosteoporosis and bone cancers, including breast cancers that have spread to the bone.

    On applying denosumab to BRCA1-mutated breast tissue, they found itdeactivated the growth activity of pre-cancerous cells. What is more, the drug halted breast cancer development in a BRCA1-deficient mouse model.

    Overall, the researchers say their findings indicate that targeting the RANK pathway may be an effective strategy to reduce breast cancer risk in women with a BRCA1 mutation.

    "By thoroughly dissecting how normal breast tissue develops, we have been able to pinpoint the precise cells that are the culprits in cancer formation.

    It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the 'holy grail' of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk."

    Study co-author Prof. Jane Visvader, WEHI

    The authors say that a clinical trial is already underway to further investigate the breast cancer-preventing potential of RANK-inhibiting drugs.

    Learn how even light alcohol consumption may increase breast cancer risk.

    Written by Honor Whiteman

  • June 22, 2016 9:20 AM | Deleted user

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently launched the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry to understand more about pregnancy and infant outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) intends to collaborate with CDC on this registry. Health care providers are asked to identify any cases of pregnant women with laboratory evidence of Zika virus or any infants with suspected congenital Zika virus exposure. If you have identified a woman or infant meeting these criteria, please call DHS at 608-267-9003 or the CDC Zika Pregnancy Registry at 770-488-7100.

    Additional information regarding the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry can be found at Registry fact sheets designed specifically for obstetric health care providers, pediatric health care providers, pregnant women, and parents can be accessed using the links below and are also available in Spanish.

    For the latest updates regarding Zika virus, please visit and

    Zika Pregnancy Registry Fact Sheet for obstetric providers (PDF)

    Pika Pregnancy Registry Fact Sheet for pregnant women (PDF)

  • June 21, 2016 1:08 PM | Deleted user

    Australian researchers have discovered that an existing medication could have promise in preventing breast cancer in women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene. People who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene are at high risk of developing aggressive breast cancer. Currently many women with a gene mutation choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. 

    By pinpointing the cells that give rise to breast cancers in women who have inherited a faulty version of the BRCA1 gene, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have identified that the drug denosumab may have potential to prevent breast cancer from developing. If confirmed in clinical studies, this would provide a non­surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with elevated genetic risk. Using samples of breast tissue donated by women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene, Ms Emma Nolan, Professor Jane Visvader and Professor Geoff Lindeman were able to pinpoint the cells that give rise to breast cancer. 

    The research, which also involved researchers at the Australian familial cancer consortium kConFab and US biotechnology company Amgen was published today in Nature Medicine. Cancer precursor cells in BRCA1­mutant breast tissue had many similarities to aggressive forms of breast cancer, said Ms Nolan, who is a PhD student at the institute enrolled through The University of Melbourne's Department of Medical Biology. 

    "These cells proliferated rapidly, and were susceptible to damage to their DNA ­ both factors that help them transition towards cancer," she said. "We were excited to discover that these pre­cancerous cells could be identified by a marker protein called RANK." Professor Lindeman, who is also a medical oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the discovery of RANK as a marker of cancer precursors was an important breakthrough, because inhibitors of the RANK signalling pathway were already in clinical use. "An inhibitor called denosumab is already used in the clinic to treat osteoporosis and breast cancer that has spread to the bone," he said. "We therefore investigated what effect RANK inhibition had on the cancer precursor cells in BRCA1­mutant breast tissue." 

    The research team showed that RANK inhibition switched off cell growth in breast tissue from women with a faulty BRCA1 gene and curtailed breast cancer development in laboratory models. "We think this strategy could delay or prevent breast cancer in women with an inherited BRCA1 gene mutation," Professor Lindeman said. "A clinical trial has already begun to investigate this further." "This is potentially a very important discovery for women who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene, who have few other options. Current cancer prevention strategies for these women include surgical removal of the breasts and/or ovaries, which can have serious impacts on people's lives. 

    To progress this work, denosumab would need to be formally tested in clinical trials in this setting as it is not approved for breast cancer prevention," Professor Lindeman said. Professor Visvader said the discovery had its basis in more than a decade of investigations of breast stem cell function. 

    "By thoroughly dissecting how normal breast tissue develops, we have been able to pinpoint the precise cells that are the culprits in cancer formation," she said. "It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the 'holy grail' of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk." 

    The research team worked closely with Mrs Avis Macphee, a patient advocate, through the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's consumer­researcher buddy system. The research was supported by The National Breast Cancer Foundation, The Qualtrough Cancer Research Fund, The Joan Marshall Breast Cancer Research Fund, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, the Cancer Therapeutics Cooperative Research Centre, an Amgen Preclinical Research Program Grant, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Victorian Cancer Agency, and the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support Scheme. 

    More information: RANK ligand as a potential target for breast cancer prevention in BRCA1­mutation carriers, Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.4118 Provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute "'Holy grail' of breast cancer prevention in high­risk women may be in sight" 

    June 20, 2016­06­holy­grail­breastcancer­high­risk.htm

  • June 13, 2016 11:18 AM | Deleted user
    Women with lupus are at significantly greater risk for cervical cancer than those in the general population, concludes a new study led by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

    Researchers say SLE may double women's risk of cervical dysplasia or invasive cervical cancer.

    Lead researcher Dr. Hjalmar Wadström, of the Department of Medicine Solna at Karolinska, and colleaguesrecently presented their findings at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2016), held this week in London, United Kingdom.

    When talking about lupus, the majority of people are referring to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which is the most common form of the condition. 

    SLE is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body's tissues and organs, including the skin, joints, brain, kidneys, and blood vessels.

    According to the Lupus Research Institute, SLE is estimated to affect more than 1.5 million people in the United States, of whom more than 90 percent are women aged 15­44.

    While symptoms of SLE vary, they may include pain or swelling in the joints, skin rashes or sores, sun
    sensitivity, muscle pain, fever, fatigue, and mouth ulcers. Among young women, SLE is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

    Previous studies have also suggested the autoimmune disease may increase women's risk of cervical cancer, though Dr. Wadström and colleagues note that such evidence has been conflicting.
    Cervical dysplasia, cancer risk doubled for women with SLE
    To find out more about the potential link between SLE and cervical cancer, the team analyzed data from Sweden's National Patient Register, the Swedish National Cervical Screening Registry, and the Swedish Cancer

    Fast facts about cervical cancer
    • This year, around 12,990 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S.
    • Around 4,120 women will die from the disease in 2016
    • Most cases occur in women under the age of 50.
    • Using this data, the team calculated the rates of invasive cervical cancer and cervical dysplasia between 2006­
    • 2012 among the general female population and those with SLE.
    Cervical dysplasia is abnormal cell growth on the lining of the cervix ­ most commonly caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). If untreated, the condition may lead to cervical cancer.
    The researchers found that women with SLE were at twice the risk of developing cervical dysplasia or
    invasive cervical cancer, compared with the general female population.

    Women with SLE who were treated with immunosuppressant medication were found to be at the highest risk of cervical dysplasia or invasive cervical cancer, the team reports.

    These findings remained after accounting for age, sex, education, utilization of healthcare, number of children,marital status, family history of cervical cancer, and cervical cancer screening in the past 5 years. The researchers say their findings emphasize the importance of regular cervical cancer screening for women with SLE, even if they are not being treated with immunosuppressant drugs. 

    "Previous evidence that SLE or its treatment might increase the risk of cervical neoplasia has been

    Our findings have confirmed that SLE is a risk factor for cervical malignancies, even after adjusting for important risk determinants such as previous cervical screening."

    Dr. Hjalmar Wadström

  • June 10, 2016 11:21 AM | Deleted user

    June is LGBT Pride Month!

    Save the date for APAOG's next webinar on September 27th, 2016. The webinar will focus on LGBT Reproductive Health.

  • June 08, 2016 11:20 AM | Deleted user

    (Reuters Health) - Obesity rates for U.S. women and teens are on the rise, according to two new studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in JAMA.

    About 41 percent of women and 35 percent of men are obese, according to survey data collected as recently as 2014 and reported in one of the studies.

    A decade earlier, about 38 percent of women and 34 percent of men were obese, the study found. Only the increase for women was large enough to be sure it wasn’t due to chance.

    Over this same period, obesity rates for teens rose from about 17 percent to 21 percent, CDC researchers report in the second study.

    “The most recent data before this point showed no increases overall in youth, men or women over the previous decade,” said Cynthia Ogden, a CDC researcher who worked on both studies.

    “These trends are not explained by changes in age or educational levels in the population or by changes in the distribution of race-ethnic groups in the population or changes in smoking status,” Ogden added by email.

    Globally, 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney complications, joint disorders and certain cancers.

    Both studies analyzed data from a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population that includes questions about weight and height. Researchers looked at participants’ body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height, to assess trends in obesity over time.

    For adults, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy, 25 to 29.9 is overweight, 30 or above is obese and 40 or higher is morbidly obese.

    An adult who is 5’9” tall and weighs from 125 to 168 pounds would have a healthy weight and a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An obese adult at that height would weigh at least 203 pounds and have a BMI of 30 or more.

    Almost 6 percent of men and 10 percent of women have what’s known as “class 3” obesity, with a BMI of at least 40 and the most severe risk of health complications tied to their weight, the CDC study of adults found.

    If there’s a sliver of good news in all this data, it’s for the youngest children, ages 2 to 5, the CDC youth study found.

    For these kids, obesity rates declined from about 14 percent a decade ago to 9 percent in the most recent survey.

    Over that period, obesity rates for children ages 6 to 11 dipped slightly, but not enough to rule out the possibility that this was due to chance.

    One limitation of both studies is that people in surveys tend to say they are taller and lighter than they really are, which can downplay obesity rates calculated from BMI, the authors note. BMI also doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle.

    Even so, the two studies suggest that huge investments to reverse the U.S. obesity epidemic over the past three decades haven’t done much to diminish the problem, Dr. Jody Zylke and Dr. Howard Bauchner, deputy editor and editor-in-chief of JAMA, respectively, wrote in an editorial.

    “The rates among children and adults are driven by the same factors,” said Dr. Lili Lustig, a family medicine researcher at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio who wasn’t involved in the study.

    Lack of exercise is part of the problem, and so is what people eat, Lustig added by email.

    “We have done a deplorable job of helping parents understand food as a prescription for health,” Lustig said by email. “If a parent does not understand the value of food choices, how can you expect their children and the next generation to have any better understanding?”

    SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, online June 7, 2016

  • June 07, 2016 11:19 AM | Deleted user

    (Reuters Health) - Doctors should offer testing for syphilis to men who have sex with men, people living with HIV and others at an increased risk of the sexually transmitted disease, a U.S. government-backed panel recommended on Tuesday.

    The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reaffirms its 2004 guidelines.

    "It’s a great opportunity for primary care clinicians to identify people who are at a higher risk to be counseled about prevention and treated if needed," said Ann Kurth, a member of the USPSTF and the dean of the Yale School of Nursing in Orange, Connecticut.

    Syphilis can progress to inflammatory lesions throughout the body and ultimately heart and organ problems, the USPSTF writes in JAMA. At any point, the infection can spread to the central nervous system, causing complications such as blindness and dementia.

    In 2014, the number of new U.S. syphilis infections reached nearly 20,000, compared to 5,979 cases in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The USPSTF says most syphilis infections in the U.S. in 2014 were in men who have sex with men. People with HIV are also at high risk for the infection, as are certain minority groups, geographic areas and young men.

    Kurth said there is a solid testing approach and very effective and relatively inexpensive treatment regimens for syphilis.

    The USPSTF can't say how often screening should be done, however. Some studies suggest improved detection when men who have sex with men and people with HIV are screened every three months, compared to every year.

    The test is a two-step process which requires two positive results. The CDC recommends penicillin G benzathine as treatment.

    Treating syphilis with antibiotics can lead to "substantial health benefits" by curing the infection, preventing late-stage disease and stopping its transmission to other people, according to the USPSTF.

    The panel says the harms of screening "are likely to be small, including false-positive results that lead to further testing, anxiety, and possible stigma. Harms of treatment, such as allergic reactions to penicillin, are also small."

    In an editorial, two researchers say the resurgence of syphilis is disheartening, given the availability of tools to combat it.

    Lack of funding, changing sexual behaviors and a focus on HIV infections may have contributed to the increase in syphilis infections, write Dr. Charles Hicks, of the University of California, San Diego and Dr. Meredith Clement, of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

    "The good news is that fixing what has gone wrong does not require huge capital investment, breakthrough technological advances, or massive restructuring of our health care systems," they write. "Improvements are at hand and require mostly focus and commitment on the part of the health care community."

    SOURCES:, and Journal of the American Medical Association, online June 7, 2016.

  • May 16, 2016 1:49 PM | Deleted user

    By Alan Mozes
    HealthDay Reporter

    WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Zika infection isn't always obvious. In one recent case, a rash, bloodshot eyes and spots in the mouth were key symptoms of infection with the mosquito-borne virus, researchers report.

    The 44-year-old patient had no fever, a common sign of Zika infection. But he complained of headache, fatigue and redness on his arms and hands just days after returning to the United States from Puerto Rico, where the mosquito-borne virus is circulating.

    Zika infection was only confirmed by blood and urine tests administered after the man recovered.

    Researchers are publicizing the case to highlight lesser known characteristics of the illness, which is usually mild but can cause serious birth defects and neurological problems.

    "Our aim [is] to provide a more detailed description of skin, mucosal and tissue findings than exists in the literature, with the goal of improving awareness and recognition of suspected cases by the health care community," said report co-author Dr. Amit Garg.

    The problem with diagnosing Zika is the virus shares many characteristics with other illnesses, explained Garg, an associate professor of dermatology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

    The disease has captured global attention in the last year because of widespread infections in Central and South America.

    According to the World Health Organization, 64 countries and territories have reported Zika transmission, largely spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and yellow fever. Sexual intercourse and probably blood transfusions are also thought to spread infection, experts say.

    Symptoms are usually mild and short-lived, lasting two to seven days. But Zika exposure in pregnancy raises the risk for microcephaly, a serious birth defect affecting a baby's head and brain size. Zika is also associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare nervous system illness.

    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. mainland has seen just 472 cases, all contracted outside the country. But health officials predict Zika-carrying mosquitoes will threaten the Gulf States, including Florida, Louisiana and Texas, by summer.

    Garg and his colleagues present their findings in online May 11 in the journal JAMA Dermatology. They said the patient became fatigued and developed a headache within three days of his return to the United States.

    One day later, he experienced itch-free redness and inflammation on his arms, hands and palms. The inflammation spread to his torso within 24 hours, before fading and moving to the lower extremities, notably the knees and feet.

    He later developed a burning sensation and joint pain in his wrists, knees and ankles.

    Within eight days, many of his initial symptoms cleared up.

    Only later, after a full medical screening, did researchers catalogue clear signs of infection and render a Zika diagnosis.

    Based on this case, Garg's team concluded that Zika rashes manifest as "tiny closely-set red bumps" that spread from the upper to lower half of the body over several days.

    "Tiny red patches" also tend to appear on the roof of the mouth, and eyes may appear bloodshot, though not all patients will have all of those symptoms, Garg said.

    Ultimately, "your doctor will need blood and/or urine samples to confirm the presence of the Zika virus," said Garg. However, a dermatologist may be able to eliminate Zika as a possibility, he added.

    Earlier this week, U.S. health officials reported that urine tests seem far better than a traditional blood test at detecting the infection. If those findings bear out in further research, it could become easier to screen for the Zika virus.

    Most experts say Americans shouldn't panic, but they should be aware of the Zika threat.

    "We live in a globally interconnected world, where the rapidity of modern travel allows us, and the microbes that infect us, to be virtually anywhere within only hours," said Lola Stamm. She is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    The bottom line, warned Stamm: "Travel and trade can bring 'new' pathogens and their vectors to our doorstep in only hours."

    With no known treatment or vaccine for Zika, experts can only recommend long-sleeved clothing and DEET-laced repellent to limit risk, or avoiding regions where the virus is circulating.

    There's more on Zika virus at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    SOURCES: Amit Garg, M.D., FAAD, associate professor and founding chair, department of dermatology, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Lola V. Stamm, Ph.D., associate professor, department of epidemiology, infectious disease program, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.; May 11, 2016, online, JAMA Dermatology

    Last Updated: May 11, 2016

    Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • May 16, 2016 1:48 PM | Deleted user

    Patients’ blood oxygen saturation is an important parameter to monitor during surgery, but it’s currently clinically impossible if the patient is still in the womb of its mother. At Rice University a team of engineering students has developed a prototype device, called WombOX, that is a pulse oximeter that can be delivered inside the womb and gently attached to the arm or leg of a fetus.

    The pulse oximeter is integrated with a nitinol wire loop that is compressed when inside the delivery sheath. Once pushed out and exposed to the heat of the body, the nitinol expands and the loop opens up. It is then wrapped around the arm or leg of the fetus and tightened. LEDs within the device work along with a light detector to sense blood oxygenation just like in existing oximeters. It can be brought back into the sheath and removed following a procedure.

    Here’s a video with the Rice student team discussing the device.

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