• A story published June 30 on reports that scientists at Sangamo BioSciences, a biotechnology company in Duarte, Calif., have made a remarkable leap forward with AIDS/HIV research, having successfully created HIV-resistant mice.

Scientists discovered that by sabotaging the gene that creates chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 5, a surface protein to which HIV bonds, the HIV virus is essentially unable to enter its targeted cell.

The gene is altered using a “zinc-finger nuclease,” comprised of a zinc-finger component that binds exclusively to genetic material found in the CCR5 gene, and a “nuclease” section that essentially castrates the gene, rendering it incapable of ever making CCR5 again – thus effectively rendering the cells HIV infection immune.
Researchers tested their theory by treating mice with the zinc-finger nuclease, then infecting the animals with HIV. Findings after six weeks, compared to a control group, indicated a 10-fold suppression of the HIV virus and a five-fold increase in circulating T-cells, usually ravaged by HIV.

The developing scientists hope to test their method in human patients by the end of this year.

  • Lakeview Regional Medical Center received the Gold Level 2007 Louisiana Hospital Quality Award, presented by Louisiana Health Care Review, Inc. The award honors Louisiana hospitals that are improving patient care in the hospital setting.
  • A Beta Blocker called Toprol XL, or metoprolol succinate, used to prevent pre-surgery complications, has been found to increase the risk of stroke and blod clot. Reuters reports that patients given the Beta Blocker to reduce heart risks before surgery were one-third more likely to die within a month after surgery. Patients also had double the risk of stroke (compared to a control group), according to a study published in The Lancet.
  • Eugene A. Woltering, M.D., FACS, of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has patented a one-step method for rapid identification of sentinel lymph nodes, those most likely to contain early metastasis from a primary cancer. Preliminary research indicates the procedure can identify sentinel nodes that receive lymphatic drainage from a tumor within 10 minutes.

“[The new technology] prevents women from having a painful, scary procedure while they are awake and substitutes an equally effective injection performed while they are sedated or asleep,” said Woltering in a June 24 LSUHSC press release.

 The next step toward FDA approval of the technology will be a Phase II clinical trial to be conducted at University Medical Center in Lafayette.

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