Tag Archives | health science

FDA Approves First New Lupus Drug In 56 Years

Lupus Varrucosus

Lupus Varrucosus

Via Modern Medicine:

Benlysta (belimumab) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat lupus, the first medication sanctioned for the condition in the United States since 1955.

The injected drug targets B-lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) protein, which is believed to play a role in abnormal B cells thought to characterize lupus, the agency said in a news release. Lupus disproportionally affects women, usually aged 15 to 44.

As many as 1.5 million people in the United States have the disease, although estimates vary widely, the FDA said. Black women have a three times higher incidence of the disease than Caucasian women.

The safety and effectiveness of Benlysta were established in a pair of clinical studies involving 1,684 people. Those treated with Benlysta had fewer symptoms than those who took a placebo, and the results suggested that those who took the drug also were less likely to have severe lupus flares, the agency said.

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Flu Vaccine Could Treat All Strands Of The Virus

Kazakstan students during 2009 swine flu outbreak. Photo: Nikolay Olkhovoy

Good bye flu shot, hello cure! The Guardian reports:

Scientists at Oxford University have successfully tested a universal flu vaccine that could work against all known strains of the illness, taking a significant step in the fight against a disease that affects billions of people each year.

The treatment – using a new technique and tested for the first time on humans infected with flu – targets a different part of the flu virus to traditional vaccines, meaning it does not need expensive reformulation every year to match the most prevalent virus that is circulating the world.

Developed by a team led by Dr Sarah Gilbert at Oxford’s Jenner Institute, the vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus that are common across all strains, instead of those that sit on the virus’s external coat, which are liable to mutate.

If used widely a universal flu vaccine could prevent pandemics, such as the swine flu outbreaks of recent years, and end the need for a seasonal flu jab.

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Daily Pill Helps Prevent HIV Infection

120px-HIV-budding-ColorWhile this pill would be an amazing achievement helping to reduce the spread of HIV, even the volunteers in the trial couldn’t remember to take it everyday. The best prevention of HIV is the knowledge of how it is transmitted and how ways to prevent it. From BBC News:

A daily pill to prevent HIV infection would be a significant development. A trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that an established treatment for HIV infection is also powerful in protecting gay men from catching the virus.

This is not, however, the answer to the nearly 30 year epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Since it is just one trial, many more studies will need to follow. But according to the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) it is “potentially very significant and could change the HIV landscape in the future”.

Some brief facts about the trial: it involved about 2,500 men at high risk of HIV infection in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil South Africa, Thailand and the United States (San Francisco and Boston).

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Patients Can Now Sniff-Control Wheelchairs

Paralyzed patients can now sniff out a discussion online or play a game of solitaire on the computer. A device connected to the nose allows a person to control keyboards and wheelchairs by sniffing. The National Geographic reports:

People who are paralyzed from the neck down might soon be leading themselves around by the nose—literally. A new electric wheelchair allows the severely disabled to guide their movements by sniffing into tubes.

Sniffing depends on highly coordinated motions of the back of the roof of the mouth, aka the soft palate. This region receives signals from several nerves that are often unaffected by paralytic injuries and disorders.

That means some patients with disabilities ranging from quadriplegia to “locked-in syndrome”—where a person is completely paralyzed, save for eyeblinks—retain the ability to sniff with precision.

Based on this idea, scientists with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, devised a new sniff controller, which uses tubes placed up the nose to measure sniff-triggered changes in nasal air pressure.

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