ANTHRAX DRUGS WORK ON KIDS, TOO
If bioterrorists strike with anthrax, children especially will be at risk for disease and death, researchers say. Therefore, even though they may produce unwanted side effects in kids, two drugs commonly used to treat the bacterial infection in adults should also be considered as a treatment option for the younger set, said the authors of a study published in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. "Anthrax can be fatal, and children may have the greatest risk for developing the disease in the event of a major bioterrorism attack," said Milap Nahata, professor and chair of pharmacy practice and administration at Ohio State. "So the use of these antibiotics can be recommended despite the lack of" adequate studies on the safety and effectiveness of ciprofloxacin and doxycycline in children. Past research links ciprofloxacin (sold under the brand name Cipro) to bone deformations and doxycycline to stymied bone growth and tooth discoloration in children. The toxic anthrax causes fluid-filled lesions, if touched, and internal bleeding and infection, if inhaled.
PROCEDURE OFFERS PERMANENT BIRTH CONTROL
A new procedure is intended to provide women with permanent birth control without requiring surgery. The developer of the method, Conceptus Inc. of San Carlos, has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market Essure, a permanent birth control procedure that needs no incisions. Once approved, the technique will be an alternative to surgical tubal ligation. Currently, U.S. women wishing to have permanent birth control must undergo surgical tubal ligation, which requires general anesthesia, abdominal incision and typically a four-to-six-day recovery period. An estimated 800,000 surgical tubal ligations are performed each year in the United States. Of these, 93 percent are performed in a hospital or surgi-center under general anesthesia. Essure is less costly, requires no cutting or general anesthesia and can be performed in the doctor's office in as little as 30 minutes, with a brief one-hour recovery period, researchers said.
RADIATION MAY KEEP ARTERIES CLEAR
Radiation treatments following balloon angioplasty may help keep the artery clear, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. During bypass surgery, surgeons often take a vein from the patient's leg to reroute the blood around the clogged arteries. But for nearly half of the patients, the new vein also gets clogged. To overcome this problem, doctors may perform an angioplasty on the graft to force the vein open with a tiny balloon and insert a stent, a metal mesh tube, to keep it open. At times, scar tissue forms inside the vein and grows over the stent, limiting the blood flow. In the study, doctors examined whether delivering radioactive pellets or "seeds" to the affected area through a catheter would inhibit the growth of scar tissue and prevent the artery from narrowing again. After one year, the researchers at Washington Hospital Center found only 17 percent of the patients who underwent coronary artery radiation therapy suffered restenosis compared to 57 percent of the patients who did not undergo the procedure.
USING BODY'S OWN CELLS TO FIGHT CANCER
University of Maryland researchers are testing a custom-made vaccine that uses a patient's own tumor cells to fight non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.The investigational approach aims to harness the body's own disease-fighting immune system to overcome the cancer. "This type of low-grade follicular lymphoma has traditionally been highly treatable, but essentially incurable," said Dr. Aaron Rapoport, director of lymphoma-gene medicine at the Greenebaum Cancer Center and chief investigator for the study. "This technique for harnessing the immune system may result in long-term disease remission and potential cures for some patients." About 480 patients are expected to participate in the nationwide study at 25 institutions in the United States and Canada. The study is sponsored by Genitope Corporation, a California-based biotechnology company developing therapies for treating cancer. The customized vaccine is designed to activate the immune system to attack the cancer cells.
(EDITORS: For more information about ANTHRAX, call 614-292-2472; about PREGNANT, call 703-858-4306; about ARTERIES, call 202-877-3900; about VACCINE, call 410-328-8919.)