Sunday, February 12, 2012

HCV Weekend Reading With An Update On Treatment Of Liver Cancer-Podcast

New On The Web Site

Podcast-Feb 12
Source: Cancer Care Connect
Leading experts in oncology provide up-to-date information in one-hour workshops over the telephone or online.

Click Here To Listen

Topics Covered:
  • Overview of Liver Cancer
  • Current Standard of Care
  • New Treatment Approaches
  • The Role of Clinical Trials
  • How Research Contributes to Treatment Options
  • Controlling Symptoms and Pain
  • Nutritional Concerns and Tips
  • Communicating with Your Health Care Team
  • Questions for Our Panel of Experts

Just Published: HCV Newsletters

Read the hepc.bull -
Online monthly newsletter (.pdf)
In This Months Issue
Hep C Vaccines
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, just
like polio or smallpox, no one had to worry
about catching Hep C ever again? Vaccines
do that. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine
against Hep C, but researchers keep trying…
and may be getting close.

Also In This Months Newsletter;
HCV News
ALS-2200 AND ALS-2158

Vegetable Curry

Hep C on the Internet

NYC Viral Hep Newletters

Additional February Newsletters;

Off The Cuff - For Your Sunday Reading Pleasure-Sort of
use of stem cells for cosmetics and cosmetic procedures is exploding even while many important questions remain.

How legitimate are these stem cell cosmetic products and procedures?

Are they safe and effective?

What kinds of medical conditions are they being used to treat?

I also recently did a post on another area of medicine that is growing involving stem cells: sports medicine. There too much of what is happening is not backed up by published science.

Regardless of the science, for both sports medicine and cosmetics/plastic surgery, there are literally billions of dollars to be made per year and many companies want to tap into that money stream.

One type of reported stem cell-based procedure is for breast reconstruction after cancer, such as what celebrity Suzanne Somers (see photo at left, credit National Enquirer) reportedly recently had performed.

Beyond treatment of cancer patients,  the same kind of procedure is being performed for breast augmentation in women who have not had cancer. An interview with one of the pioneers of this medical procedure can be found here and is an interesting read.

What was the situation with Somers and what are the implications of her procedure?

The most recent headline of the National Enquirer screams “Suzanne Somers Stem Cell Boob Job“.

Somers, the actress who played the iconic ditzy blonde, Christmas “Chrissy” Snow, in the 70s sitcom “Three’s Company”,  was known back then almost 40 years ago for being a young, sexy actress.

Perhaps it is then no surprise that she is now known to a large extent for her series of books on staying sexy as one ages and her own line of health products that are pitched on her website.
She has millions of fans today just as she did 4 decades ago in her twenties.

A dozen years ago, cancer entered her life. Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatment had side effects that understandably concerned her. As a cancer survivor (prostate) myself, her concerns seem very legitimate to me.

She is quoted on her website:
Like millions of other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to face the numerous daunting decisions about my treatment and recovery. In 2000, I had a lumpectomy and full course of radiation that left me with a withered, nearly pancake breast on the right side (barely a B cup) and my full natural breast on the left side (a D cup)

One possible option that many women choose in that kind of situation is breast reconstruction that can involve an implant. In addition, moving fat from one part of the body to the breast to aid in reconstruction is also an option.

What Somers had done is more cutting-edge and less understood: using abdominal fat stem cells combined with her fat for an autologous transplant to the breast for reconstruction. Somers has a series of videos on another website showing her going through the surgical procedure and during her recovery. I believe it was very gutsy of her to have the procedure taped. Note that some of these videos are graphic and may not be appropriate for all viewers. See image below taken as a screen shot of the video of Somers’ adipose stem cells reportedly being added to her fat prior to transplant into the breast.

Keep Reading Here... 
More On Suzanne Somers @ Celebrity Diagnosis-
Suzanne Somers used Belly Fat Stem Cells to grow Her New Breasts

In the News 

Yesterday, the FDA issued its long-awaited guidance for a pathway to develop biosimilars. A wide array of groups - drugmakers, investors and payers, among others - have been clamoring for details about the approval process that would be required to bring lower-cost versions of expensive biologics to patients (here is the guidance). The advent of these biosimilars is forecast to eventually become a multi-billion-dollar market. Biosimilars, which would largely be injectable products, are already available in Europe. But reaching agreement on a so-called pathway for making biosimilars has been an arduous process because these medications are much more difficult to make than pills and capsules because of a complex manufacturing process that may not yield exact copies. We spoke with Jonathan Pan, a manager at the Scientia Advisors consulting firm, about the implications…
Continue reading at Pharmalot

On The Blog : FDA Outlines Path Forward For Biosimilars

Interferon and Ribavirin Control HCV Genotype 6

From Reuters Health Information

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 08 - Pegylated interferon and ribavirin are effective against chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 6, a recent study shows.

"This large randomized study provides new information on treatment of genotype 6 patients, particularly on shortening duration of therapy in select patients (and) thus limiting costs of an expensive treatment," said Dr. K. Rajender Reddy of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in an email to Reuters Health.

Genotype 6 (which now includes genotypes 7, 8 and 9) is endemic in Southeast Asia, where it accounts for up to 47% of HCV infections. Once problematic mainly in that part of the world, "in the changing era of increasing migration of populations, it has been recently reported in the United States, as well as in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong," Dr. Reddy and colleagues wrote in a paper online January 17 in the Journal of Hepatology.

The interferon/ribavirin combination is the standard treatment for HCV, but genotype is considered to be a strong predictor of sustained virological response (SVR) and little is known about response and optimal treatment duration with genotype 6, the investigators say.

The new trial included 105 treatment-naive HCV genotype 6 patients in Vietnam who were randomized to 24 or 48 weeks of treatment with pegylated interferon alfa-2a 180 mcg per week and ribavirin 15 mg/kg per day.

The study was not funded, and the patients had to pay for their care. Six dropped out for economic reasons and another seven were lost to follow-up.

Even so, on intention-to-treat analysis the SVR was 60% in the 24-week group and 71% in the 48-week group. The difference was not significant. Corresponding biochemical responses were 63% and 77%.

Rates of virological relapse were 7% with the shorter course of treatment and 5% with the longer course.

Overall, SVR was most likely in those with a rapid virological response. In the 24-week group, 75% of such patients achieved SVR. In the 48-week group, the proportion was 86%.

Rates of hematologic and general adverse events were similar between the two groups, except the rate of anemia was lower with shorter treatment (31% vs 57%).

According to the paper, "24 weeks of therapy in younger patients, with low viral load and rapid virological response appeared equally effective as 48 weeks of therapy and this is likely to have a major economic impact on HCV therapy, in such subpopulations."

In fact, Dr. Reddy noted that the efficacy of shorter-duration therapy is scientifically worth pursuing in larger trials, but given the lack of support for the current study, "challenges are in funding."

"While new drugs are being developed for non-genotype 6 hepatitis C infections," he concluded, "pegylated interferon and ribavirin will remain the standard of care for the foreseeable future for genotype 6 infections."

J Hepatol 2012.


My ribbon is red: Planned Parenthood fights HIV/AIDS
Angered by a horde of reactionary, women-hating, chastity obsessed right-wingers who huddled and spewed venom this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference , spouting pseudo-pious obscenities bewailing "contraception" as if it is a communist plot against America.

Desert AIDS Project fundraiser event breaks attendance record
Joan Rivers attends the 18th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday, February 11, 2012.

Healthy You

Featured Article-Berkeley March 2012 Newsletter

The Alcohol/Cancer Connection
New research complicates women’s decision about whether to drink or not
Does alcohol increase the risk of breast cancer? Yes, even light to moderate drinking, according to a new analysis from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 106,000 women for more than 25 years. It found that women who routinely consumed 3 to 6 drinks per week were 15 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than nondrinkers, regardless of the type of alcoholic beverage they drank. For women averaging 6 to 19 drinks per week, the increased risk was 20 percent. Among those consuming more than 19 drinks per week, the risk jumped by 50 percent.

Alcohol, in moderation, has gotten a healthy reputation because it helps prevent heart attacks (and possibly diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis and other disorders), so you may be surprised to hear that it can boost cancer risk. In the past 15 years, accumulating evidence has strongly linked alcohol to a number of cancers, notably of the esophagus, mouth and throat, but also of the liver, colon and breast. It may contribute to breast cancer by raising blood levels of estrogen.
The studies on alcohol and breast cancer have mostly blamed heavy drinking; many have not found significantly higher risk among light drinkers. The new study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, got lots of attention not only because it was large and comprehensive, but because it found that light or moderate drinkers also face increased risk. In addition, it concluded that lifetime alcohol consumption (starting in early adulthood), rather than current levels, was the best measure of risk.

Why it’s hard to prove the link
All studies of alcohol and cancer are observational; it would be very difficult to do clinical trials in which subjects are randomly assigned long-term alcohol consumption or abstinence. In the new study, researchers observed how many cases of cancer occurred in the women over the decades, and matched these up with how much alcohol they consumed (based on self-reports, which can be unreliable). They took into account factors such as age, weight, smoking, family history and hormone use. This type of research cannot prove cause and effect or precisely indicate where the risk thresholds lie, but it can be strongly suggestive.

Putting the risk into perspective
Any additional cancer risk is bad, of course, but a 15 percent increased risk (found for 3 to 6 drinks a week in this study) is not as threatening as it may sound. At age 50, for instance, the average woman has a 2.4 percent chance (1 in 42) of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years. An increase of 15 percent would raise the risk to about 2.8 percent (1 in 37).
Stated another way, among 1,000 women age 50, light drinking may cause an extra 3 or 4 cases of breast cancer during the next decade—which would presumably be more than offset by a reduction in heart attacks. Keep in mind, these are only averages. For women with a family history of breast cancer, for example, the estimated risks will be higher. For others, the risks may be lower.

Our advice
If you’re a woman and drink, should you quit to reduce your risk of breast cancer? Or should you continue to drink to help protect your heart, particularly if you’re at high risk for heart disease?

Here are some pointers:
If you drink, keep your intake light to moderate. For a woman, that means no more than a drink a day (for men, it’s two drinks). A standard drink is 4 to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, which all contain about 14 grams of pure alcohol (ethanol). That’s all you need for heart health. And that limits the increase in cancer risk.

If you know you are at high risk for breast cancer, or if you have had breast cancer, it may make sense to quit drinking or drink only occasionally. Discuss your risk factors for both breast cancer and heart disease with your doctor.
If you are a light or moderate drinker at average risk for breast cancer, you may reduce the risk somewhat by giving up drinking—but nobody knows for sure.

Words to the wise: Alcohol has many known harms as well as many known or potential benefits. An increased risk of breast cancer is only one factor to consider. Age is another. Women are far more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, especially later in life. So for older women, the benefits of light or moderate drinking are more likely to outweigh the risks.
For more about alcohol, see “Should You Drink? How Much?”

 Folate to the rescue?
Woman who drink should be sure to consume enough folate, one of the B vitamins. Studies suggest that an adequate folate intake reduces the increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol. Alcohol impairs folate absorption in the body and increases its excretion, and folate deficiency is linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Thus, female drinkers with low folate intake, in particular, may be at increased risk for breast cancer.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate is 400 micrograms a day. Leafy greens and citrus fruit are good sources; many grain products are fortified with folic acid (the form of folate used for fortification and in supplements). A basic multivitamin provides the RDA. Higher-dose supplements are not necessary or recommended. Exception: Women who may become pregnant should take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid a day to help prevent birth defects.

 In Memory

 Whitney Houston, Pop Superstar, Dies at 48
Whitney Houston, the multimillion-selling singer who emerged in the 1980s as one of her generation’s greatest R & B voices, only to deteriorate through years of cocaine use and an abusive marriage, died on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48. 

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