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Archive - 11 - 2011

BUSM Researchers Develop Blood Test to Detect Membranous Nephropathy

Posted by dlife on Wed, Nov 30, 11, 10:39 AM 0 Comment

November 30, 2011 (Boston University School of Medicine) Research conducted by a pair of physicians at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) has led to the development of a test that can help diagnose membranous nephropathy in its early stages. The test, which is currently only offered in the research setting and is awaiting commercial development, could have significant implications in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Currently, the only way to diagnose the disease is through a biopsy.The pioneering work is being led by Laurence Beck, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM and a nephrologist at BMC, and David Salant, MD, professor of medicine at BUSM and chief of the renal section at BMC.Over the past four years, the Halpin Foundation has contributed more than $350,000 to Beck to investigate the genetics and molecular mechanisms behind membranous nephropathy. Most recently, Beck was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to further his efforts.Membranous nephropathy is an autoimmune disease caused by the immune system attacking the kidneys, resulting in the thickening and dysfunction of the kidneys filters, called glomeruli. When antibodies attack the glomeruli, large amounts of protein in the urine are released. In 2009, Beck and Salant identified that the antibodies were binding to a protein in the glomeruli. They determined that the target was a protein called PLA2R, or phospholipase A2 receptor, and these findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For the first time, a specific biomarker has been identified for this relatively common kidney disease, said Beck, who is part of an international collaboration that has demonstrated that these antibodies are present in patients from many different ethnicities. With the antigen protein identified, Beck and Salant have developed a blood test to detect and measure the amount of the specific antibodies in a sample.Approximately one third of patients with membranous nephropathy eventually develop kidney failure, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. According to the University of North Carolinas Kidney Center, the disease affects people over the age of 40, is rare in children and affects more men than women. This disease is treated by high powered chemotherapy, and if successful, the antibodies go away.Being able to detect the presence of these antibodies using a blood test has tremendous implications about who is treated, and for how long, with the often toxic immunosuppressive drugs, said Beck.Beck continues his research focus on the treatment of the disease by targeting the antibodies and stopping them from attacking the glomeruli.About the Halpin Foundation
The Halpin Foundation seeks to aid the medical community in understanding and overcoming genetic conditions. To achieve the most impact with their funds, they prioritize grants into two targeted goal areas: kidney disease research and autoimmune disease research. Today, autoimmune diseases are typically treated with immunosuppression -- medication that decreases the immune response and does not address the underlying genetic dispositions of the patient. The Halpin Foundation is encouraging researchers to identify the genetic basis for autoimmune diseases and kidney diseases such as Membranous Nephropathy (MN), which is often idiopathic.The Foundation is a non-profit medical research organization. No salaries, overhead or expenses are drawn and to that end one hundred percent of their funding goes toward the advancements they back.

High Blood Sugar Levels in Older Women Linked to Colorectal Cancer

Posted by dlife on Tue, Nov 29, 11, 05:46 PM 0 Comment

November 29, 2011 (Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University) Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. The findings, observed in nearly 5,000 postmenopausal women, appear in the November 29 online edition of the British Journal of Cancer.According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S. Statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2007 (the most recent year for which figures are available) show that 142,672 Americans were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, including 69,917 women; the 53,219 deaths from colorectal cancer that year were divided almost equally between men and women.The Einstein study involved women who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health's landmark Women's Health Initiative study. For these women, fasting blood sugar and insulin levels had been measured at baseline (i.e., the start of the study) and then several more times over the next 12 years.By the end of the 12-year period, 81 of the women had developed colorectal cancer. The researchers found that elevated baseline glucose levels were associated with increased colorectal cancer riskand that women in the highest third of baseline glucose levels were nearly twice as likely to have developed colorectal cancer as women in the lowest third of blood glucose levels. Results were similar when the scientists looked at repeated glucose measurements over time. No association was found between insulin levels and risk for colorectal cancer.Obesityusually accompanied by elevated blood levels of insulin and glucoseis a known risk factor for colorectal cancer. Researchers have long suspected that obesity's influence on colorectal cancer risk stems from the elevated insulin levels it causes. But the Einstein study suggests that obesity's impact on this cancer may be due to elevated glucose levels, or to some factor associated with elevated glucose levels."The next challenge is to find the mechanism by which chronically elevated blood glucose levels may lead to colorectal cancer," said Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D., a senior epidemiologist at Einstein and lead author of the paper. "It's possible that elevated glucose levels are linked to increased blood levels of growth factors and inflammatory factors that spur the growth of intestinal polyps, some of which later develop into cancer."The paper is titled "A Longitudinal Study of Serum Insulin and Glucose Levels in Relation to Colorectal Cancer Risk among Postmenopausal Women." Other Einstein authors are Mimi Kim, Sc.D., and Howard Strickler M.D., both professors in the department of epidemiology and population health, and senior author Thomas E. Rohan, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of epidemiology and population health.

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