A team led by a University of British Columbia professor has developed a new class of drugs that completely suppress absence seizures - a brief, sudden loss of consciousness - in rats, and which are now being tested in humans. Absence seizures, also known as "petit mal seizures, " are a symptom of epilepsy, most commonly experienced by children. During such episodes, the person looks awake but dazed. The seizures, arising from a flurry of high-frequency signals put out by the neurons of the thalamus, can be dangerous if they occur while a person is swimming or driving, and can also interrupt learning. Available medications don't completely control such seizures in many patients. They also cause severe side effects, including sleepiness, blurred vision and diminished motor control.
A European Parliament event to discuss how EU legislation has negatively affected the treatment received by children and adolescents has marked International Childhood Cancer Day - 15th February. The meeting was hosted in association with the European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE) to raise awareness of the many hurdles faced by patients and those who care for them as a result of the EU Clinical Trials Directive (CTD). The Directive (2001/20/EC) has been one of the most controversial pieces of European legislation related to health since its introduction in 2004; seen by many to be having a detrimental effect on academic-led clinical research in Europe. Member of the European Parliament Glenis Willmott, who hosted the event in Brussels, Belgium, stated: "EU countries are still using different standards for clinical trials, which means researchers have to apply multiple times for a clinical trial, with different applications.
Combining gemcitabine with MRK003, an experimental drug, triggers a chain of events leading to pancreatic cancer cell death, researchers from Cambridge reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The researchers explained that when the two drugs are combined, the effect of each one is multiplied, thus intensifying the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells. Professor David Tuveson, from the Cambridge Research Institute, UK, and team demonstrated in animal studies that MRK003, an experimental medication, when combined with chemotherapy medication gemcitabine, set off a domino effect which ultimately destroyed the malignant cells. The drug combo is being used in a human study, a clinical trial, which is being managed by Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust, together with Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office.
As oncologists already know and newly diagnosed lung cancer patients learn, the kind of treatment given to patients is increasingly becoming dependent on the specific gene mutation present in the cancer. But, as lung cancer moves from being one common disease to multiple different diseases at the molecular level, learning about and getting access to the right treatment within clinical trials can be challenging for these subpopulations of patients that may be widely dispersed around the globe. Dr. Howard (Jack) West, medical director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, and Dr. Ross Camidge, director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine are looking for ways to help patients tackle these geographic barriers using both online patient communities and innovative trial approaches.
Children at risk for dyslexia show differences in brain activity on MRI scans even before they begin learning to read, finds a study at Children's Hospital Boston. Since developmental dyslexia responds to early intervention, diagnosing children at risk before or during kindergarten could head off difficulties and frustration in school, the researchers say. Findings appear this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Developmental dyslexia (dyslexia that's not caused by brain trauma) affects 5 to 17 percent of all children; up to 1 in 2 children with a family history of dyslexia will struggle with reading themselves, experiencing poor spelling and decoding abilities and difficulties with fluent word recognition. Because of problems recognizing and manipulating the underlying sound structures of words (known as phonological processing), children with dyslexia have difficulty mapping oral sounds to written language.