New test detects toxic prions in blood

Prion Protein Fibrils (Credit: Flickr, NIAID, CC BY)Main Points:

The first cases of Mad Cow disease in humans (properly called variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease, or vCJD) occurred in the late 1990s and are thought to be the consequence of eating contaminated beef products. Since then, several cases of secondary infections caused by transfusions with blood from donors who subsequently developed vCJD have been reported, raising concerns about the safety of blood and blood products. A paper published in PLOS Pathogens on June 12th now describes an assay that can detect prions in blood samples from humans with vCJD and in animals at early stages of the (asymptomatic) incubation phase. Read More …

Study Examines Effect of Intervention to Increase Blood Flow During and After Major Surgery

Kidney surgery (Credit: Flickr/NDNG)Main Points:

In a study that included high-risk patients undergoing major gastrointestinal surgery, the use of a cardiac-output guided intervention to improve hemodynamics (blood flow and blood pressure) during and after surgery did not reduce complications and the risk of death after 30 days, compared with usual care. However, when the current results were included in an updated meta-analysis, the intervention was associated with a clinically important reduction in complication rates, according to a study published by JAMA. The study is being released early online to coincide with its presentation at the American Thoracic Society International Conference. Read More …

Novel blood test may help predict impending preterm birth

Fetus (Credit: lunar caustic/Flickr)Main Point:

Blood-based diagnostic test can distinguish between true and false labor.

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A blood-based diagnostic test accurately predicted whether 70% of female study participants with threatened preterm labor (TPTL) would or would not give birth prematurely. Results were published May 14, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE, by Dr Jan Heng and Professor Stephen Lye from the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

“A lot of TPTL women are unnecessarily hospitalized,” says Professor Stephen Lye. “We want to develop a test that can differentiate between true and false labor so that women in true labor can receive the appropriate medical care while women in false labor will receive supportive care and be discharged.” Preterm birth worldwide remains the main cause of childbirth-related mortality in the developed world. Only 5% of the women hospitalized with signs of premature labor (i.e. TPTL) will deliver a premature baby within ten days. Read More …

Study Estimates Proportion of Adults Affected by New Blood Pressure Guideline

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Applying the updated 2014 blood pressure (BP) guideline to the U.S. population suggests that nearly 6 million adults are no longer classified as needing hypertension medication, and that an estimated 13.5 million adults would now be considered as having achieved goal blood pressure, primarily older adults, according to a JAMA study released online to coincide with the 2014 American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions.

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Ann Marie Navar-Boggan, M.D., Ph.D., of Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., and colleagues quantified the proportion of adults potentially affected by the updated 2014 recommendations, compared to the previous guideline, issued nearly 10 years ago (Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure [JNC 7]). The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2010 (n = 16,372), and evaluated hypertension control and treatment recommendations for U.S. adults. The new guideline proposed less restrictive BP targets for adults 60 years of age or older and for those with diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

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Using Age to Distinguish Normal From Abnormal Blood Test Results Appears to Safely Exclude Lung Blood Clots in Older Patients

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Chicago – Using a patient’s age to raise the threshold for an abnormal result of a blood test used to assess patients with a suspected pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs) appeared to be safe and led to fewer healthy patients with the diagnosis, according to a study in the March 19 issue of JAMA.

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D-dimer is a breakdown product of a blood clot, and measuring D-dimer levels is one way doctors exclude a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE). Several studies have shown that D-dimer levels increase with age. As a result, the proportion of healthy patients with abnormal test results (above 500 µg/L for most available commercial tests) increases with age, limiting the test’s clinical usefulness in older people, according to background information in the article.

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Young blood can breathe fresh life in older ones

Shared circulation in rats for 4 weeks (Credit: Cell / doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.04.015)
Shared circulation in rats for 4 weeks (Credit: Cell / doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.04.015)

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Researchers have found that blood of youngsters can rejuvenate the heart of the old ones – at least in mice.

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Previously, researchers found that the blood from the young mice could rejuvenate the brain of the older mice. (Naturedoi:10.1038/nature10357).

In the new study, researchers worked on two mice; one was 2-month-old and the other was 23-month-old having cardiac hypertrophy – a condition in which the heart muscle thickens leading to heart failure. Researchers surgically joined the circulatory system of the two mice that caused the blood to flow around each other’s bodies.

Researchers found that the heart of the older mouse reverted back to almost the same size as that of the younger animal and the heart of the younger animal remained unaffected even after circulating the blood from the older mice. Read More …

A common blood substitute has been found to be linked to more deaths than lives

Blood substitute (Credit: Nature)Researchers have found that a common blood substitute to revive the critically ill patients with low blood pressure can cause more deaths than lives.

This research has been published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers, in this study, worked on a corn-based hydroxyethyl starch solution, a commonly used blood volume expander, and compared it with other products. Researchers worked on 38 clinical trials involving 10,880 patients around the world and found that the chances of kidney failure and mortality were more in the patients, who received hydroxyethyl starch solutions.

“It’s used around the world in emergency rooms, intensive care units and surgical suites,” Zarychanski said in a short video produced by the university.

“Physicians like myself have often suspected the product may be associated with harm, but no study was adequately … designed to test this hypothesis.”

“We looked at all the studies conducted throughout the world to date on this product and we found clear evidence that in patients who received this product, compared to patients who received other resuscitation fluids, those patients have a greater chance of dying and having acute renal failure,” he added. Read More …

Diagnostic tool to determine down to 20 nm of individual particles in blood sample at an early stage

Researchers from Norway have developed the sensor that is capable of determining the individual particles in the blood sample and can help to detect cancer such as prostate and ovarian cancer in very early stages.

It is the world’s first sensor with such capability of determination developed by researchers from SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia, in collaboration with the researchers from Stanford University in the USA and the University of Oslo (UiO). This nano-particle sensor has been developed in MiNaLab in Oslo.

The MiNaLab nanotechnology laboratory in Oslo (Credit: SINTEF ICT)

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Soluble mesothelin-related peptide could be used as a biomarker for asbestos related disorders; Research

Asbestos related disorders mostly affect lungsResearchers have found that serum soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP) could be used for the detection of the severity of diseases associated with asbestos.

This research has been published online in the journal of Safety and Health at Work.

Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance. One of the most fatal diseases associated with asbestos is malignant mesothelioma, which is the cancer of the lungs. Among the other diseases from this material are pleural plaques, asbestosis, and diffuse pleural thickening. Serum SMRP is the blood based biomarker. In some of the studies, it has been reported that the increased levels of serum SMRP level is associated with the duration of past asbestos exposure.

Researchers have worked on 514 subjects, which were exposed to asbestos. They were then assessed for the severity of the diseases associated with asbestos while comparing the SMRP levels with the severity of the disease. They found that SMRP is related to the disablement from non-malignant diseases associated with asbestos, so this can be used in the diagnosis of severity from asbestos related disorders. Read More …

Genes involved in platelet formation

Identification of the role of genes in the fruit fly and zebra fishResearchers have found 68 regions of genome that affects the size and number of platelets, which are responsible for clotting of the blood and healing of wounds. An increase in the number of platelets causes thrombotic events such as strokes and heart attacks while a decrease in the number of platelets results in abnormal bleeding.

This research has been performed by an international team of researchers and published online in the November 30 issue of the Journal Nature.

In this study, researchers worked on genome wide meta-analysis of almost 68,000 individuals and have combined different advanced techniques and used a series of biological analyses to identify the new genetic variants involved in the formation of the platelets. In the research process, researchers firstly identify the genes involved in the formation of platelets through biological observations of these genes leading to the construction of protein-protein interaction network, showing how they interact, and near the end of the research they found the role of the genes in model organisms i.e. fruit fly and zebra fish.

Researchers found that decreasing the activity of one of these genes i.e. ARHGEF2 in fish, abolishes the production of platelets and red blood cells as the ability of blood forming cells to capture iron abolishes. Read More …