Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hepatitis C News; Organs For Sale

The Philippines is among several developing countries which are said to be major sources of goods involved in transnational crimes, a study of the anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) showed.
For organ sale, the Philippines is among the "common donors" of these organs together with China, India, Turkey, Egypt, Moldova, Romania, Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru for buyers coming from developed countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, and Australia, as well as the wealthy classes from developing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Oman.

Kidney is the most commonly transplanted organ, with a global estimate of 68,500 transplants performed per year, followed by the liver (20,100), heart (5,200), lung (3,250), and pancreas (2,800).
Illicit trade in kidney and liver alone is estimated to reach between $600 million and $1.2 billion per year.

"As with other forms of trafficking, the illegal kidney trade generally ‘flows from poor, underdeveloped countries to rich, developed ones’... Recently China, Pakistan, and the Philippines have taken steps to prohibit ‘transplant tourism,’ which the United Network for Organ Sharing defines as ‘the purchase of a transplant organ abroad that includes access to an organ while bypassing laws, rules, or processes of any or all countries involved.’ These efforts have dramatically slowed the practice of open transplant tourism, but experts believe that the practice continues as ‘an underground criminal activity,’" TI said.
For oil, TI estimated the average yearly value of illicit trade from 2003 to 2010 was $10.8 billion..........
Health chief to keep ban on kidney sale
by Macon Araneta
HEALTH Secretary Enrique Ona on Friday vowed to win over Senator Miriam-Defensor Santiago and explain his position on the commercial sale of kidneys and other human organs – issues that the lawmaker raised in blocking his appointment.
A day after Santiago threatened to veto Ona’s confirmation, the health chief said he would try and hold a meeting with Santiago before the bicameral Commission on Appointments resumes its confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Santiago had demanded from Ona a written assurance of his adherence to the administrative order issued by his predecessor Esperanza Cabral which imposed a ban on the donation of kidneys from non-related donors.
The feisty senator said she was bothered by Ona’s stand on the policy on kidney transplants. She noted that allowing kidney transplants between unrelated and living patients will open the poor to the exploitation of the poor who sell their kidneys.
During the hearing, Ona recalled that Santiago wanted a definite statement from him that he will not revoke or change Cabral’s order until there is a law defining it.
Ona, former director of the National Kidney Transplant Institute, said he had no intention of revoking or replacing Cabral’s order.
Cabral’s ban stays, said Ona, who was one of the highest-paid kidney transplant surgeons before he assumed the Health portfolio.
Cabral’s ban imposed total ban on the sale of kidney to foreigners. It was part of the Philippine commitment to the 2008 Istanbul Declaration on Organ Trafficking and Transplant.
“We will not make any changes in the (Cabral) order at this time. I have no intentions of changing it,” Ona said.
Also See; Organ Harvesting In China
Six Kosovar doctors face charges of illegal organ trafficking.

HIV-Infected Men at Ongoing Risk for HCV Seroconversion, Study Finds
February 7, 2011 — Even with conscientious care and state-of-the-art medication, HIV-infected men are at risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroconversion and should have access to ongoing HCV surveillance, the authors of a new study say. Their findings were published online January 31 and appear in the February print issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
HCV has become "a leading cause of non-AIDS related morbidity and mortality for HIV-infected persons in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era," lead author Lynn E. Taylor, MD, from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and coauthors write. They estimate that up to 30% of HIV-infected people in the United States are coinfected with HCV....

Gates Foundation Awards 2 Grants Totaling $5.45M For Cutting-Edge Laboratory Research: Team To Create Advanced Devices For Testing Malaria Drugs
09 February 2011The University of South Florida received $5.45 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The first grant is to create advanced devices that mimic the human liver to better study the life cycle of the...

Novel Cancer Surgery Enabled By NOTES Tools
09 February 2011Surgeons at UC San Diego Health System have identified a new application for "scarless" surgery tools that are normally used for natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery (NOTES

Prevalence of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) among visitors of Shashemene General Hospital voluntary counseling and testing center.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is significant health problem, as it can lead to chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatic carcinoma. Due to shared routes of transmission, HBV and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection is common and is an emerging concern in the clinical management of patients because of increased mortality, accelerated hepatic disease progression, and the frequent hepatotoxicity caused by anti-retroviral therapy.The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and its risk factors, among individuals visiting Shashemene General Hospital VCT center.FindingsInstitution based cross-sectional study was performed from November 3, 2008 to December 29, 2008 and 384 voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) clients were investigated. Data on socio-demographic and HBV risk factors was collected using structured questionnaires.Blood samples were collected and screened for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and HIV by commercially available rapid test kits.

The prevalence of HBsAg in this study group was 5.7%.Fourteen percent of HIV positive subjects (8/57) and 4.3% (14/327) of HIV negative subjects were positive for HBsAg. Significantly high prevalence of HBsAg was observed among individuals who had history of invasive procedures, like tooth extraction, abortion and ear piercing; history of hospital admission, history of unsafe inject and HIV positives. Conclusions: Although HBsAg prevalence is much higher among subjects who are HIV positive (14.0% versus 4.3%), the prevalence of HBsAg in HIV negative subjects is high enough to warrant a recommendation to screen all clients at VCT centers irrespective of HIV status.Author: Asfaw NegeroZufan SisayGirmay MedhinCredits/Source: BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:35
Healthy You
Hepatitis C treatment
Warning issued to Fuzeon, Pegasys, Viraferon Peg and Intron A users
The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to users of four injectable drugs that may be used by people with HIV and/or hepatitis C regarding microbial contamination of alcohol ...
Liquid drugs 'more prone to error'
9-Feb-2011 By The Press Association
Liquid medication is four times more likely to be taken wrongly by care home residents than capsules or tablets, according to a study.

State urges testing of well water in Woodstock area
Illinois officials are urging residents who get their drinking water from private wells in the Woodstock area to test it for possible contamination.Routine testing by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency near the McHenry County community show possible contaminants.A product of an industrial solvent was detected at levels lower than the standard at which experts usually express concern, an EPA spokeswoman said. But it's possible the levels could be higher in other areas where people draw their drinking water.Long-term exposure to high levels of such a contaminant could result in increased health risk to the liver and kidneys.The Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging residents in the area to have their water tested at a private laboratory.

Public Release: 9-Feb-2011 Journal of Renal Care
Experts call for greater awareness of the links between diabetes and kidney disease
Experts are calling for greater awareness of the kidney problems that diabetics can face, after research found that awareness was low among white and South Asian patients. The first time that many patients realized that diabetes could affect their kidneys was when they were referred to renal services.

Dr. Jeff Hersh: Understanding blood tests
By Dr. Jeff Hersh
GateHouse News Service
Posted Feb 08, 2011 @ 12:11 PM
Q: I had a routine blood test, and my doctor told me my white blood cell count was low. Should I be worried?

A: Several different types of white blood cells fight bacterial, fungal, viral and/or parasitic infections, as well as serving other functions. In adults, a white blood cell count less than 3,500 cells per microliter is considered low; the normal threshold in children varies with age.
White blood cells are made in the bone marrow and are released into the blood stream. They then circulate in the blood stream or take up residence in the vascular endothelium system or certain body tissues/organs. Old white blood cells are cleared from the blood stream by the spleen and liver.

The white blood cell count is measured by evaluating the concentration of white blood cells in the bloodstream. Falsely low measurements can occur due to clumping of the white blood cells or from other factors.

A truly low white blood cell count can be from a congenital cause or it can be acquired. There are many different congenital conditions that cause low white blood cell counts. An acquired low white blood cell count can be due to:

Decreased bone marrow production: This may be due to infections (viral infections are the most common cause), medication reactions (the second most common cause), certain congenital conditions, medication effects (such as from chemotherapy agents) or from cancer/infections/other conditions that infiltrate the bone marrow "crowding out' its ability to produce normal white blood cells. In addition, certain autoimmune conditions can affect the hormones that trigger white blood cell production, hence "turning off the switch" that tells the bone marrow to produce white blood cells. There are also many conditions that may directly affect the cells that make the white blood cells, causing ineffective production of normally functioning cells. High thyroid levels and/or certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies (such as B-12 or folate deficiencies) can cause inadequate white blood cell production as well.
Increased destruction of white blood cells in the bloodstream: This may be due to autoimmune conditions (possibly triggered by medication reactions) or many other conditions.
Increased clearance of white blood cells (even normally functioning ones): This may be due to an enlarged spleen (from whatever cause).

Using them up faster than they can be replaced: Overwhelming infections can do this.
Migration of the cells out of the bloodstream: In some conditions white blood cells can migrate to the vascular endothelium or other tissue pools/organs.

The type, risk and severity of any clinical problem from low white blood cells depends on the type of white blood cells that are affected and how severe the deficit is. Many of the conditions that cause a low white blood cell count are benign, causing minimal or no clinical problems. However, since white blood cells are one of the main ways the body fights infections, a low white blood cell count can lead to an increased risk of infection.

Polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs) are the most common type of white blood cells and, hence, low white blood cells almost always implies a low PMN count. Since PMNs fight bacterial infections, overall this is the most common infection from low white blood cells.
Low white blood cell count is more common in African Americans; 5 percent to 10 percent of black Americans have low neutrophil counts, as opposed to less than 1 percent of white Americans. Thankfully, this is usually due to a benign inherited condition, so most of these patients do not have clinical problems.

In patients with a mildly decreased white blood cell count noted on a routine blood test who do not have a history of infections, other testing may not be required. However, in patients with a history of infections, or those with other concerning results of their blood test, other testing may be indicated.

For example, if transient neutropenia is suspected (a condition where a patient's PMNs drop for several days every few weeks, predisposing them to infection) blood tests to check their white blood cell count may be required several times per week for several weeks. If decreased cell production is suspected, a bone marrow biopsy may be required. If an autoimmune condition is suspected screening tests for a collagen vascular disease or other testing may be needed. If a chronic infection is suspected -- for example, HIV infection -- other tests may be indicated.
Many patients with low white blood cells do not require treatment. However, good dental care (since this can be a source of infection) and increased vigilance when they have a fever or appear ill is indicated.

Depending on the cause of the low white blood cells, some patients may benefit from antibiotics to minimize their risk of acquiring an infection. For example, certain HIV patients are put on specific types of antibiotics.
For some patients -- like those receiving chemotherapy for certain cancers -- medications that stimulate the bone marrow to increase production of white blood cells may be beneficial.
A low white blood cell count should trigger a discussion with your health care provider. He or she can evaluate your history and risk factors, as well as the other details of the test results, and determine what other testing and/or treatments may be required.
Jeff Hersh, Ph.D., M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.P., F.A.A.E.P., can be reached at
MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News
Copyright 2011 The Milford Daily News. Some rights reserved

Off The Cuff
Goldman Sachs Suggests Buying Calls on Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Goldman Sachs is out with a research report this morning, where its analysts suggest that traders buy calls on Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) ahead of several catalysts.
The analysts expect shares to be especially volatile around seven upcoming catalysts, most relating to TVR (Telaprevir), a new drug for HCV (hepatitis C infection) which could represent over 80% of VRTX sales by next year.
TVR is at the leading edge of a paradigm shift for the treatment of HCV, a market that is expected to grow to $10-$12bn from $3bn following the introduction of new oral drugs, with improved cure rates and shorter treatment durations.
They suggest buying the July $41.00 call for $3.50.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated is engaged in the business of discovering, developing and commercializing small molecule drugs for the treatment of serious diseases.
(c) 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published in its entirety or redistributed without the approval of Benzinga.

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