Clues to treat brain cancer discovered
PHOENIX, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said they've discovered new genetic mutations involved in glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer.
The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network said the findings of its large-scale study of glioblastoma, published in the online edition of the journal Nature, hold potential implications for the diagnosis and treatment of the deadly disease that afflicts about 21,000 people each year in the United States -- including U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
The research team said it has identified many gene mutations involved in glioblastoma, including three that occur with significant frequency, as well as the delineation of core pathways disrupted in this type of brain cancer. They also made an unexpected observation that points to a potential mechanism of resistance to a common chemotherapy drug used for brain cancer, the group said Friday in a release.
"These impressive results from TCGA provide the most comprehensive view to date of the complicated genomic landscape of this deadly cancer," Dr. Elias A. Zerhoui, director of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.
Universal flu vaccine tested on humans
OXFORD, England, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- British researchers are testing a universal flu vaccine on humans in hopes of ending the need for yearly injections.
Current vaccines only work on certain strains of flu, which means a new vaccine must be formulated each year.
"This approach to influenza vaccination is unsatisfactory for use against seasonal influenza, and of little use when new types of flu begin to infect humans from birds," Dr. Sarah Gilbert of the University of Oxford said Friday in a statement.
Gilbert said existing flu vaccines work by inducing protective antibodies to proteins on the outer surface of the influenza virus, while the new vaccine targets internal proteins essential to the flu virus that change very little over time or between strains. Researchers said it is hoped the new vaccine could also offer immunity to a bird flu pandemic.
"By targeting the internal proteins of the virus, we can come up with a universal flu jab," Gilbert said. "The same vaccine would work against all seasonal flu and protect against bird flu."
Twelve volunteers are receiving a single injection of the new vaccine as part of this Phase 1 clinical trial, the university said in a release.
Alfalfa sprouts recalled for Salmonella
OLYMPIA, Wash., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Sprouters Northwest Inc. has recalled alfalfa sprouts after an outbreak of Salmonellosis in Oregon and Washington state.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the sprouts may be linked to 13 cases of Salmonella Typhimirium infection. Nine of the illnesses were reported in Washington and four were in Oregon. At least two people were hospitalized, the Washington State Health Department said
The sprouts were sold in a variety of package sizes labeled "Alfalfa Sprouts," or as mixed varieties that contain alfalfa sprouts as an ingredient. The sprouts were distributed to grocery stores, and possibly other retail outlets in Washington and Oregon.
USDA said the Kent, Wash., company was working closely with state officials and the Food and Drug Administration to determine the cause of the problem and what can be done to combat it.
Nicotine may enhance other experiences
MANHATTAN, Kan., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A Kansas State University researcher suggests that nicotine's power, or addictive quality, may be in how it enhances other experiences.
Study leader Matthew Palmatier said much previous research on nicotine addiction has looked at the drug itself rather than the other factors associated with nicotine's addiction.
"People have very regimented things they do when they smoke," Palmatier said in a statement. "People smoke in very specific places, often with a specific group of people. Maybe it's a reason why nicotine is so addictive -- if you get used to having that extra satisfaction from things you normally enjoy, not having nicotine could reduce the enjoyment in a given activity."
For a smoker who enjoys drinking coffee, the nicotine may make a cup of coffee more satisfying, Palmatier said.
"The big picture is trying to figure out why people smoke," Palmatier said. "There are a lot of health risks, and the majority of smokers already know what they are. They want to quit but can't. It's not because nicotine is a potent drug; it doesn't induce significant amounts of pleasure or euphoria. Yet, it's just as difficult if not more difficult to quit than other drugs."
The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.