Study uncovers new pathway for treating high blood pressure, heart failure

Discovery could eventually lead to new treatments for hypertension and heart failure

National Institutes of Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

New research by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) and the Ottawa Heart Institute has uncovered a new pathway by which the brain uses an unusual steroid to control blood pressure. The study, which also suggests new approaches for treating high blood pressure and heart failure, appears today in the journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) One.

“This research gives us an entirely new way of understanding how the brain and the cardiovascular system work together,” said Dr. John Hamlyn, professor of physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, one of the principal authors. “It opens a new and exciting way for us to work on innovative treatment approaches that could one day help patients.”

For decades, researchers have known that the brain controls the diameter of the peripheral arteries via the nervous system. Electrical impulses from the brain travel to the arteries via a network of nerves known as the sympathetic nervous system. This system is essential for daily life, but is often chronically overactive in high blood pressure and heart failure. In fact, many drugs that help with hypertension and heart failure work by decreasing both acute and chronic activity in the sympathetic nervous system. However, these drugs often have serious side effects, such as fatigue, dizziness and erectile dysfunction. “These drawbacks have led to the search for novel ways to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system while causing fewer problems for hypertension and heart failure patients,” says Dr. Frans Leenen, director of hypertension at the Ottawa Heart Institute, and a principal author of the study.

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Working with an animal model of hypertension, Dr. Hamlyn and Dr. Mordecai Blaustein, professor of physiology and medicine at the UM SOM, and their research partner, Dr. Leenen, found a new link between the brain and increased blood pressure, namely, a little-known steroid called ouabain (pronounced WAH-bane). Ouabain was discovered in human blood more than 20 years ago by Dr. Hamlyn and Dr. Blaustein, along with scientists at the Upjohn Company. The new study is the first to identify the particular pathway that connects the brain to ouabain’s effects on proteins that regulate arterial calcium and contraction. Through this mechanism, ouabain makes arteries more sensitive to sympathetic stimulation, and as a result the enhanced artery constriction promotes chronic hypertension.

“Now that we understand the role of ouabain, we can begin working on how to modify this new pathway to help people with cardiovascular problems,” said Dr. Blaustein. “The potential for this is big.” Dr. Blaustein, who has been doing research on the substance since 1977, said medications that block ouabain’s effects might improve the lives of people with hypertension and heart failure.

The researchers, who include Vera Golovina, Ph.D., an adjunct associate professor of physiology at UM SOM, and Bing Huang, M.D, Ph.D., a research associate at the Ottawa Heart Institute, also found significant new evidence that ouabain is manufactured by mammals, a question that had not been previously answered.

“This discovery underscores the crucial importance of basic research here at the School of Medicine,” said Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, as well as vice president of medical affairs, the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko Bowers Distinguished Professor. “These scientists have spent years unraveling the many potential roles of ouabain and how it works, and now we are beginning to see the fruits of their labor.”

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UK urges decisive action on Ebola





















William Pooley









British nurse William Pooley told the conference of “the horror and misery” in Sierra Leone








The UK has called for urgent decisive action from the international community to deal with the growing Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Speaking at a conference in London co-hosted with Sierra Leone, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called for more financial aid, doctors and nurses.

British nurse William Pooley, who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, made an emotional appeal for more action.

It is the world’s worst outbreak of the virus, killing 3,338 people so far.

There have been 7,178 confirmed cases, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea suffering the most.

Leading charity Save the Children earlier warned that Ebola was spreading at a “terrifying rate”, with the number of new recorded cases doubling every few weeks.

It said that a rate of five new Ebola cases an hour in Sierra Leone meant healthcare demands were far outstripping supply.


‘Horror and misery’

Mr Hammond announced plans for a pilot scheme that would involve setting up community health care centres in Sierra Leone to isolate patients at the early stages of infection when Ebola is less contagious.


Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (fifth right) addresses delegates at the "Defeating Ebola in Sierra Leone" conference at Lancaster House in London on 2 October 2014Experts and politicians met in London to debate a global response to the crisis

“The alternative is allowing this disease to progress,” said Mr Hammond, citing a worst-case scenario issued by experts that one and a half million people could be infected by January.

The main agenda of the Ebola Donors Conference in London was to discuss what the global community could do to provide an effective international response.

Ministers, diplomats and health experts from about 20 different countries, including the US, France, Japan, Australia and all of the West African nations hit by the disease, were in attendance.

Ebola deaths

Up to 28 September

3,338

Deaths (probable, confirmed and suspected)

  • 1,998 Liberia

  • 710 Guinea

  • 622 Sierra Leone

  • 8 Nigeria

Source: WHO

Getty

Speaking at the conference, Mr Pooley described his experiences treating a young boy and his sister, who both died from the disease.

“I put her in a bag and left her next to her brother. She was a beautiful little girl. So, my specific fear is that the horror and the misery of these deaths, really fill a well of my despair.”

He said he did not know what would happen if what he had witnessed was repeated a million times.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma was unable to attend the conference at the last minute, but was reported to have participated via video link.


Liberia

Separately, health officials in Texas say about 80 people are being monitored for symptoms of Ebola, after coming into contact with a Liberian man who is being treated for Ebola in hospital.

About 12-18 people, including five children, had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in a serious condition.

Meanwhile, UN coordinator for Ebola Anthony Banbury says the disease has now reached every county in Liberia.
















Ebola graphic illustration









Watch this short video explaining how the virus attacks human cells








He said that more needed to be done to educate remote communities about how to protect themselves from infection.

But Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the situation there is beginning to stabilise, describing warnings of tens of thousands of new cases as “simply wrong”, in comments to France 24 on Wednesday.
















Health workers wearing protective suits prepare to carry the body of a victim of Ebola






Anthony Banbury comments on the challenges in tackling Ebola








Earlier this month, Britain said it would build facilities for 700 new beds in Sierra Leone but the first of these will not be ready for weeks, and the rest may take months.

Safety trials for two experimental vaccines are under way in the UK and US, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, and will be expanded to 10 sites in Africa, Europe and North America in the coming weeks.

It said it expected to begin small-scale use of the experimental vaccines in West Africa early next year.
















A patient is treated









The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976









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Ebola virus disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

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Are you in the region? Are you affected by Ebola?

Get in contact by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

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Asbestos victims win damages ruling








MesotheliomaMesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos


Government plans to deduct legal fees from the damages paid to people dying from asbestos exposure are unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

The Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK brought the action against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The group challenged his decision to allow 25% of damages awarded to mesothelioma sufferers to be used to pay legal insurance premiums and costs.

The Ministry of Justice said it was “disappointed” with the judgment.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

It can take decades to develop, yet people live for an average of just nine months after diagnosis.

Around 2,000 people are diagnosed each year, and the numbers are set to increase over the next 30 years.

Many people seek compensation by taking legal action against their former employers or the employer’s insurance company.


Who pays?

In 2013, there was a shift in the legal system.

The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) moved the responsibility of legal costs from the losing party to the person making the claim.

However, people with mesothelioma were exempt from the new rules until there was a full review of the implications on this group of claimants.

The government said the review took place at the end of last year, and that the same rules should apply to mesothelioma sufferers.

The Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK said: “It could only be described as a back of a fag packet review.”

It took legal action against the government.

In his judgement, the honourable Mr Justice William Davis said: “The issue is whether the Lord Chancellor conducted a proper review of the likely effect of the LASPO reforms on mesothelioma claims… I conclude that he did not.”

He ruled attempts to deduct costs from damages were unlawful.


‘Very happy’

Doug Jewell, from the Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK, told the BBC News website: “We are very happy indeed. This lifts the burden of fear from thousands of mesothelioma sufferers.

“People ask about legal action because they want to look after their families after they’ve died, but they’re scared by the legal fees.

“Now they’re told they’re safe, it won’t cost you anything, and they can take action and provide for their families.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Mesothelioma is an awful condition which can destroy lives in a frighteningly short amount of time, and we want to help sufferers and their families.

“We are committed to finding the best way to get claims settled fairly and quickly.

“It remains our view that the Ministry of Justice review of this issue was conducted fully and openly and we are disappointed with this judgment. We will now consider our next steps.”

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Texas children 'monitored for Ebola'





















Texas Hospital









The authorities are searching for people the patient could have infected, as ABC’s Cecilia Vega reports








Children have come into contact with the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, the governor of Texas has said.

At a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Rick Perry said the children were being monitored “at home” for symptoms.

The patient is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia before coming to the US nearly two weeks ago.

He is in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

Mr Perry said the school-age children identified as having contact with the patient were “now being monitored at home for any signs of the disease”.

“Parents are extremely concerned about that development,” Mr Perry said but emphasised the disease could not be transmitted before a patient showed signs of the disease.
















Rick Perry









Texas Governor Rick Perry: “I know that parents are extremely concerned”








The Texas governor said his state had the medical infrastructure to prevent an outbreak.

“There are few places in the world better equipped to meet the challenge that is posed in this case.”

More than 3,000 people have already died of Ebola in West Africa and a small number of US aid workers have recovered after being flown to the US.

Meanwhile, in Liberia a government spokesman said the man showed no symptoms or fever as he was screened before departing the country.

“What this incident demonstrates is the clear international dimension of this Ebola crisis,” Lewis Brown, the country’s information minister, said in a statement.


Health workers in protective suits greet a woman who has come to deliver food to relatives at Island Hospital where people suffering from the Ebola virus are being treated in Monrovia on 30 September 2014Liberia has been worst affected by the Ebola outbreak which began in neighbouring Guinea

“For months, the Liberian government has been stressing that this disease is not simply a Liberian or West African problem.”

Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the board of the Liberia Airport Authority told the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia that screening procedures, which were instituted on 26 July, were “as best as they can humanely be”.

Mr Kesselly said they had screened 10,000 passengers since July, but it would be “nearly impossible” to identify a person as infected with the Ebola virus if they were not showing symptoms.


Monitoring

CDC Director Thomas Frieden confirmed the Ebola case on Tuesday, saying the unnamed patient left Liberia on 19 September and arrived in the US the next day to visit relatives, without displaying any symptoms of the virus.
















Tom Frieden









Tom Frieden, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirms the US case








Symptoms became apparent in the patient on 24 September, and on 28 September he was admitted to a Texas hospital and put in isolation.

The disease, which is not contagious until symptoms appear, is spread via close contact with bodily fluids.

The unnamed patient was described as critically ill on Tuesday, suggesting the hospital has upgraded his condition.

Health officials are working to identify all people who came into contact with the unnamed patient while he was infectious, including relatives and a “couple” of community members.


Aid worker Nancy Writebol Aid worker Nancy Writebol was flown to Atlanta in early August


Aid worker Nancy Writebol A month after returning to the US, Ms Writebol was well enough to speak to reporters

Those people will then be monitored for 21 days to see if an Ebola-related fever develops.

But they will not be monitoring passengers on the man’s flight, where Dr Frieden said there was “zero risk of transmission” as the man had been checked for fever before boarding.


‘We will stop it’

According to Dr Frieden, it is possible a family member who came in direct contact with the patient may develop Ebola in the coming weeks.

But “the bottom line here is I have no doubt that we will control this importation, this case of Ebola, so it does not spread widely in this country,” he added. “We will stop it here.”
















Bill Gates









Bill Gates: “We have got to get medical personnel in there.”








Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told the CNN if the hospital learned of recent travel to Liberia it “would have been an enormous red flag for anybody”.

A nurse had asked the patient on his first visit to the hospital if he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak, but the “information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team”, according to hospital officials.

The patient’s sister told AP he was sent home with antibiotics the first time he went to hospital.


Health workers in protective suits look at an ambulance upon its arrival at Island Hospital in Monrovia on 30 September 2014More than 3,000 people have already died in West Africa


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Ebola virus disease (EVD)


Ebola virus

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

Ebola virus: Busting the myths

Do you know anyone who’s been affected by the Ebola outbreak? Email your comments to haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk






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Smell test 'may predict lifespan'








By Smitha Mundasad
Health reporter, BBC News


person smelling flowers People who did well on smell tests were most likely to be alive five years later


Measuring people’s sense of smell in later life could help doctors predict how likely they are to be alive in five years’ time, a PLOS One study suggests.

A survey of 3,000 adults found 39% with the poorest sense of smell were dead within five years – compared to just 10% who identified odours correctly.

Scientists say the loss of smell sense does not cause death directly, but may be an early warning sign.

They say anyone with long-lasting changes should seek medical advice.


Five odours

Researchers from the University of Chicago asked a representative sample of adults between the ages of 57-85 to take part in a quick smell test.

The assessment involved identifying distinct odours encased on the tips of felt-tip pens.

The smells included peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather.

Five years later some 39% of adults who had the lowest scores (4-5 errors) had passed away, compared with 19% with moderate smell loss and just 10% with a healthy sense of smell (0-1 errors).

And despite taking issues such as age, nutrition, smoking habits, poverty and overall health into account, researchers found those with the poorest sense of smell were still at greatest risk.


Picture of oranges The odour of orange was considered harder to identify than the smell of peppermint

Lead scientist, Prof Jayant Pinto, said: “We think loss of the sense of smell is like the canary in the coal mine.

“It doesn’t directly cause death, but it is a harbinger, an early warning system that shows damage may have been done.

“Our findings could provide a useful clinical test, a quick inexpensive way to identify patients most at risk.”

Exactly how smell loss contributes to lifespan remains unclear, but the researchers put forward a number of possible reasons behind the link.

They say a reduced ability to sniff out odours could signal less regeneration or repair of cells in the body overall, as a healthy sense of smell depends partly on a continual turnover of cells that line the nose.

And a worsening sense of smell may serve as a mirror for a lifetime’s exposure to pollution and bugs, they say.

They are now doing more research to understand the reasons behind the link.


‘Underappreciated sense’

Prof Pinto added: “The sense of smell is a little underappreciated – it plays a very important part in everyday life.

“But we don’t want people to panic. A bad cold, allergies, and sinus problems, can all affect your sense of smell.

“People shouldn’t be too worried, but if problems persist they should speak to their physicians.

“And perhaps this study shows we need to start paying more attention to sensory health overall.”

Prof Tim Jacob of Cardiff University, who was not involved in the research, said: “This well-conducted study suggests the sense of smell is intimately linked to health and wellbeing.

“Smell lies at the interface between physiology and psychology, which is a battlefield of reciprocal interactions.

“For example, smell loss can result in depression, and depression can result in changes in the ability to smell.”

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Up to 18 exposed to U.S. Ebola patient, including children

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks at a media conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas October 1, 2014.   REUTERS/Mike Stone


(Reuters) – Health experts were observing up to 18 people, including children, who had contact with the first person to be diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus in the United States, officials said on Wednesday.

Confirmation that a man who flew to Texas from Liberia later fell ill with the hemorrhagic fever prompted U.S. health officials to take steps to contain the virus, which has killed at least 3,338 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the World Health Organization said.

The patient was evaluated initially last Friday and sent home from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with antibiotics, a critical missed opportunity that could result in others being exposed to the virus, infectious disease experts said.

The man was admitted to the same hospital on Sunday, where he was in serious condition, a spokeswoman said. The hospital cited the man’s privacy as the reason for not identifying him, but the Associated Press gave his name as Thomas Eric Duncan.

Five Dallas-area students were being monitored for possible exposure to Ebola after coming into contact with the man over the weekend, Dallas officials said. A Dallas County health official said 12-18 people were being monitored because of possible contact with the patient.

“The students did not have any symptoms and so the odds of them passing on any sort of virus is very low,” Mike Miles, Dallas Independent School District superintendent, told a news conference.

Miles said the five had been in school since then but were now at home. He said the schools would be staffed with additional health professionals and classes would remain in session.

Texas officials said health workers who took care of the patient had so far tested negative for the virus and there were no other suspected cases in the state. Texas Governor Rick Perry told a news conference he was confident the virus would be contained, as did other officials.

“People can be confident here in this country that we have the medical infrastructure in place to prevent the broad spread of Ebola,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on CNN.

U.S. stocks fell sharply. Airline and hotel company shares dropped over concerns that Ebola’s spread outside Africa might curtail travel. Drugmakers with experimental Ebola treatments in the pipeline saw their shares rise.

Anyone who might have had contact with the patient will be closely monitored for the next 21 days, the time it can take for symptoms to appear.

“We have a seven-person team in Dallas today helping to review that with the family and make sure we identify everyone that could have had contact with him,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in an interview with NBC TV’s “Today” show.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids like blood or saliva, which health experts say limits its potential to infect others, unlike airborne diseases. Still, the long window of time before patients exhibit signs of infection, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea, means an infected person can travel without detection.

While past outbreaks killed as many as 90 percent of victims, the current epidemic’s fatality rate has averaged about 50 percent in West Africa.

FLIGHT PATH

The patient in the United States arrived in Texas on Sept. 20, and first sought treatment six days later, according to the CDC. The Liberian government said that the man showed no signs of fever or other symptoms of Ebola when he left Liberia on Sept. 19. A Liberian official said the man traveled through Brussels to the United States.

Several leading U.S. airlines said they were in close contact with federal health officials about Ebola-related travel concerns.

On Wednesday, officials repeated a call to healthcare workers to be vigilant in screening patients in the United States for possible signs of the virus.

“If you have someone who’s been in West Africa in the past 21 days and they’ve got a fever or other symptoms that might be consistent with Ebola, immediately isolate them, get them tested,” Frieden told NBC.

Meanwhile, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the first public health expert to lead the institution, said fighting Ebola means confronting inequality, as people in poor countries have less access to knowledge and infrastructure for treating the sick and containing it.

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Howard Goller)

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Ebola deaths reach 3,338, but widely undercounted, WHO says

A burial team wearing protective clothing prepare the body of a person suspected to have died of the Ebola virus for interment, in Freetown September 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Christopher Black/WHO/Handout via Reuters

A burial team wearing protective clothing prepare the body of a person suspected to have died of the Ebola virus for interment, in Freetown September 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Christopher Black/WHO/Handout via Reuters


(Reuters) – The death toll from the world’s worst Ebola outbreak on record reached 3,338 people out of 7,178 cases in West Africa as of Sept. 28, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

It said the total number of new cases had fallen for a second week, but warned against reading any good news into the figures as they were almost certainly under-reported and there were few signs of the epidemic being brought under control.

“Transmission remains persistent and widespread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with strong evidence of increasing case incidence in several districts,” the WHO’s update said.

Although the spread of the disease appears to have stabilized in Guinea, where the epidemic originated, “it must be emphasized that in the context of an outbreak of EVD (Ebola virus disease), a stable pattern of transmission is still of grave concern, and could change quickly,” it said.

The WHO data, based on figures from ministries of health, showed 710 dead in Guinea, 1,998 in Liberia and 622 in Sierra Leone.

The WHO report said both Guinea and Sierra Leone reported cases in previously uninfected districts bordering Ivory Coast.

In Liberia, there remained “compelling evidence obtained from responders and laboratory staff in the country that there is widespread under-reporting of new cases, and that the situation in Liberia, and in Monrovia in particular, continues to deteriorate.”

Two U.S. Navy mobile laboratories had arrived in Liberia and would be operational by Oct. 5, while a Chinese team in Sierra Leone had begun testing up to 20 samples a day in Freetown.

In two other West African countries, Nigeria – where eight people died – and Senegal, there have been no further suspected cases in more than 21 days, the incubation period of the disease. The WHO deems an outbreak is over when two incubation periods have passed.

Last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated there would be 8,000 cases reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Sept. 30, but said the true figure would likely be 21,000 after correcting for under-reporting.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Sanofi, Regeneron report positive Phase 2 study of dupilumab in patients with CSwNP

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) today announced that a Phase 2a proof-of-concept study of dupilumab, an investigational therapy that blocks IL-4 and IL-13 signaling, met all primary and secondary endpoints in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps (CSwNP) who did not respond to intranasal corticosteroids.

“These data suggest the potential of dupilumab for use in the treatment of another allergic inflammatory condition,” said Gianluca Pirozzi, M.D., PhD, Vice President, Global Project Head at Sanofi. “Based on these results, we plan to move forward with further clinical development of dupilumab in patients with chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps, in addition to the ongoing development in atopic dermatitis and in asthma.”

In the study, dupilumab resulted in a statistically-significant improvement in the size of nasal polyps, as measured by endoscopic Nasal Polyp Score (NPS), the primary endpoint of the study. Statistically significant improvements in all secondary efficacy endpoints were also observed, including objective measures of sinusitis by CT scan, nasal air flow, and patient-reported symptoms (sense of smell, congestion, postnasal drip, runny nose and sleep disturbance). In a pre-specified exploratory analysis, dupilumab-treated patients who also had asthma demonstrated significant improvements in asthma control. The safety profile was consistent with previous studies. The most common AEs with dupilumab were injection site reactions, nasopharyngitis, oropharyngeal pain, epistaxis, headache and dizziness.

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“There is growing recognition that patients suffering from one type of allergic disease often have additional allergic conditions. For example, many patients with chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps also have asthma or atopic dermatitis and vice versa,” said Neil Graham, M.D., Vice President, Program Management at Regeneron. “The new data reported today, together with prior Phase 2 data with dupilumab in asthma and atopic dermatitis, support the growing body of scientific evidence that these conditions may result from a core allergic inflammatory process driven by the IL-4/IL-13 pathway.”

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study enrolled 60 adult patients with moderate-to-severe CSwNP. Patients in the study received 300 milligrams (mg) of dupilumab or placebo administered once per week (QW) subcutaneously for 16 weeks, following an initial loading dose of 600 mg. All patients in the study also received a standard-of-care nasal corticosteroid spray. Patients were eligible for the study if they continued to have severe CSwNP despite standard treatment for at least one month. Fifty percent of patients in the study had received prior surgery for their condition.

Asthma was also present in 58 percent of CSwNP patients in the study. The conditions are often co-morbid and symptoms/exacerbations are frequently interdependent.

Detailed results of the study will be presented at an upcoming medical conference.

Source:

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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Early exposure to marijuana can lead to immune-related diseases in adulthood

New research published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that early exposure to marijuana can affect immune system development, leading to immune-related diseases in adulthood

When it comes to using marijuana, new research, involving mice and published in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggests that just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you should. That’s because a team of Italian scientists have found that using marijuana in adolescence may do serious long-term damage to the immune system. This damage may result in autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis in adulthood.

“I hope that the knowledge that early exposure to marijuana is associated with immediate and long-term deleterious effects on the immune system may reach adolescents and their families,” said Paola Sacerdote, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Universit- degli Studi di Milano in Milano, Italy. “The increased risk of getting sick in adulthood may hopefully be a deterrent for marijuana abuse among young individuals.”

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To make this discovery, scientists injected “adolescent” mice with THC, the main active component of marijuana, for 10 days. This period in the mouse lifecycle corresponded to the adolescence period in humans (approximately ages 12-18). A second group of adolescent mice received only a placebo. At the end of treatments, both groups of animals were left undisturbed for approximately two months, until they reached full adulthood. The activity of the immune system was then evaluated, taking into consideration several important measurements, such as the ability of leukocytes to produce cytokines to mount an antibody response to vaccination or the capacity of macrophage to phagocyte particles. The group of mice treated with THC in adolescence had severe alterations of immune responses in adulthood, characterized by a clear switch toward a pro-inflammatory and cytotoxic phenotype.

“The immune system is characterized by an impressive ability to ‘remember’ previous exposures and changes during the period of immune system development especially early in life can have important long-term consequences,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “These studies not only point to adolescence as a key phase of immune system sensitivity, but also highly the dramatic and long-lasting negative effects that a common recreational drug abused by teenagers may have on immune function.”

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