Drug developed to treat cystic fibrosis
A new drug developed to treat cystic fibrosis has shown satisfactory results in mid-stage clinical trials. The drug, known as PTC124, has been developed by PTC Therapeutics, a private biotechnology company in New Jersey.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder in which the body produces very thick mucus, which can clog the lungs. The disease is caused by a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane-conductance regulator gene. This mutation impairs the transportation of certain ions across cell membranes.
According to researchers from Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital, Jerusalem, PTC124 can improve the functioning of cell membranes. They studied the drug in a Phase II trial with 23 cystic fibrosis patients, and found significant changes in cell membrane function. Lung function was also seen to improve because of the drug.
Rise in measles cases this year
According to health officials, incidences of measles in the U.S. are now at the highest level in more than a decade. Nearly half of the reported cases involve children whose parents refused to vaccinate them against the disease.
Rumors that vaccines may cause autism have led to the recent trend of rejecting vaccines. Occurrences of the disease are particularly high among home-schooled children, who are not required to get the vaccine.
The vaccine can also be refused under religious exemption.
Usually, one outbreak of measles affecting around 10 to 20 people is seen in a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 131 cases of measles so far this year.
Vytorin may be linked to cancer
Recent studies have shown that Vytorin, a highly promoted cholesterol-lowering drug, may cause cancer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the potential link between Vytorin and cancer.
According to the FDA, patients should not stop taking the drug right now, as there is still no clear evidence that Vytorin causes cancer.
In one clinical trial, higher rates of cancer were seen in patients taking the drug, but two other studies showed no such link between cancer and Vytorin.
Source: ABC News
Low vitamin D levels fatal
Researchers claim that low levels of vitamin D are associated with a higher risk of death.
In the study, led by Dr. Michal L. Melamed of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, death rates of 13,000 people were monitored over a period of six years.
Of the people, the 25 percent who had the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 26 percent higher risk of death as compared to the top 25 percent, who had the highest calcium levels.
Vitamin D can be obtained from milk and also from exposure to the sun.
In the U.S., about 41 percent of men and 53 percent of women have very low vitamin D levels.
Source: The New York Times