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Diabetes

Prevention of diseases is the rational and wise strategy in health.

Living a healthy lifestyle is, of course, the major key.

Science unceasingly strives to find ways to ward off diseases, like diabetes, which is a pandemic.

Insufficient level of insulin is the cause of type 2 diabetes.

This hormonal deficiency adversely affects glucose (sugar) metabolism.

As a result, blood sugar gets out of control and goes up to dangerously high level.

Another hormone, glucagon, when in excess, aggravates the situation by making the liver flood the bloodstream with even more glucose from its stored sugar.

This very common type of diabetes develops over years, and its initial stage is called pre-diabetes, where the blood sugar goes up high after a meal but reverses to normal or near normal after fasting overnight.

The new research is aimed at finding a drug that prevents pre-diabetes.

One drug that is now available is metformin, which, together with proper diet and exercise, can slow or even preclude the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition at Case Western reserve University found out that an experimental drug, sitagliptin “raised the total output of insulin by the pancreas and lowered glucagon to normal levels” as well by boosting the intestinal secretion of a factor called GLP-1.

Glyburide, which is an available rug, which was also used in the study only lowered blood glucose but not glucagon.

The next phase will be clinical trials to confirm these most promising findings with this potential wonder drug called sitagliptin.

Breast cancer

Like diabetes and most diseases, cancers can be prevented to a significant extent by healthy lifestyle.

Avoiding carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) like cigarettes, alcohol, red meat and high cholesterol foods, chemical or excessive radiation exposure (including sunlight), will go a long way in minimizing the risk for cancer.

As far as diet goes, eating mainly fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains, high-fiber foods in general, also helps in lowering the risk for cancer.

For those women with breast cancer, here is a couple of welcome news.

‘Nanodrugs’

Conventional drugs used which attack cancer cells from outside and usually damages normal cells, this new tactic utilizes multiple drugs chemically bonded to a “transport vehicle,” akin to the famous Trojan Horse.

The researchers reported that “the drugs bypass (spare) healthy cells, accumulate inside tumor cells and attack molecular targets inside that enable cancer cells to grow and spread.”

The investigators found this strategy to be more effective, using nanobioconjugates, “the latest evolution in molecular drugs designed to enter cells and alter defined targets within them.”

“The multiple drugs can be carried on a single platform, making it possible to simultaneously attack several targets,” said Julia Y. Ljubimova, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator and director of the Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine Laboratory in the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai.

Each of the multiple drugs in the “transport vehicle” has its own role in destroying the cancer cells.

The report added: “Based on our studies, our nanobioconjugate appears to be a safe and efficient delivery platform that may be tailored to treat a wide array of disorders. It is harmlessly degraded to carbon dioxide and water, nontoxic to normal tissue, and, unlike some drugs, it is non-immunogenic, meaning it does not stimulate the immune system to the point of causing allergic reactions, which may range from mild coughs or rashes to sudden, life-threatening symptoms.”

Aggressive breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer constitutes about 10 percent of all breast cancer.

This most aggressive cancer, which is found in younger patient, and where obesity is a major risk factor, has the very poor prognosis.

“Because triple-negative breast cancer patients are unresponsive to current targeted therapies and other treatment options are only partially effective, new pharmacological modalities are urgently needed,” according to Eva Surmacz, an associate research professor in biology at Temple University’s College of Science and Technology.

Together with fellow researcher Laszlo Otvos, Dr. Surmacz discovered a leptin receptor antagonist peptide, which could be a breakthrough against triple negative breast cancer.

This report was published online in the European Journal of Cancer.

The new peptide was used in a mouse model of triple negative breast cancer and compared to the conventional chemotherapy.

The findings show that this peptide was non-toxic and “extended the average survival time by 80 percent, compared to 21 percent for chemotherapy.”

After human clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy and safety of this peptide, it could expand its uses to other forms of cancers.

Vaccine for Hepatitis C

The first vaccine for Hepatitis C, a viral disease that could lead to cancer of the liver, might be a reality soon.

Presently, there are vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, but no for Hepatitis C.

This encouraging news was presented at the International Liver Congress in Berlin, Germany, the first week of April 2011.

Hepatitis C is a contagious disease which could be mild, serious, or even lifelong condition that destroys the liver.

This viral infection is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.

This infectious disease affects the liver and 60 percent to 70 percent of those people with the infection will have no symptoms and unaware they have the infection.

If not diagnosed and treated effectively, chronic infection over several years leads to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, which can progress to liver failure and, in some cases, to hepatoma (liver cancer).

Around the world, there is an estimated 270 to 300 million people infected with Hepatitis C.

A vaccine for this viral disease will certainly be most welcome.

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