New Treatment Plan for Mantle Cell Lymphoma

By Nina Jean-Jacques

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that affects approximately 3000 people in the United States every year. The disease is characterized by a translocation between two genes which results in over-expression of the cell cycle, creating enlarged lymph nodes and is found in inner mantle cell B-cells. MCL readily spreads to bone marrow and therefore, can be irresponsive to chemotherapy treatment.

Cells that display MCL

Studies show the addition of rituximab to the current regimen of treatment for MCL greatly increases response rates. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody which protects against a protein found on B-cell surfaces.

Rituximab mechanism of action

The current routine for treating the disease is cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP). Combining these drugs with rituximab (R-CHOP), forms an alternative chemotherapy option for sufferers of MCL. Because chemotherapy is toxic to cells, good and bad, developing a mixture of treatments that show the best results in the least amount of time keeps the patient in the finest physical condition. A study showed 16 out of 26 patients treated with R-CHOP achieved remission. Five of these 16 patients needed repeated doses. The other ten patients did relapse, but did show a response to the treatment. The study also gave 38 patients high dose CHOP treatments. Of these, 33 patients went remained in remission. From this study, it can be determined that R-CHOP is effective in treating MCL. However, many patients do not need the rituximab and would be given the antibodies unnecessarily (full article).

Chemotherapy is known to have devastating side effects. People of all ages are subjected to this treatment. It is sometimes the only option for those suffering from various illnesses, as of now. Researchers should start from scratch when trying to find the treatment of a disease, rather than seeing the effect of a medication for a different disease. Giving a person, who is already suffering from a deathly disease, a needless drug is almost cruel. Finding drugs that directly and specifically target a disease would minimize the unnecessary side effects of medication. Using drugs that are already known is a good starting point. This method of research has aided in the development of uncountable drugs. It is also important to get drugs to the public that do fabricate a response in patients so that there is some hope for recovery. Hopefully in the near future, drugs will be made highly specific to a disease and create fewer side effects.

Early Use of Morphine in Combat Injuries Helps Prevent Later Development of Post–traumatic Stress Disorder

A study published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was demonstrated that soldiers who received morphine following a battle-field injury were less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than those who did not.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common result of severe injury or trauma on the battle-field and can have a serious long-term impact on general health and quality of life. As the implications of this disorder have become clearer, the secondary prevention of PTSD with pharmacotherapy in the aftermath of major trauma has received more focus.

In this study, the medical files of nearly 700 soldiers wounded between 2004 and 2006 were reviewed for initial injury and later diagnosis of PTSD. Those who received morphine during early trauma care were significantly less likely to develop PTSD than those who did not. The study adjusted for factors such as injury severity, age of patient, mechanism of injury, amputation status, and other selected injury-related clinical factors, and still found a statistically significant correlation between early morphine treatment and lower risk of PTSD.

This study supports an earlier study in which morphine administration, in a small sample of child burn victims, was shown to decrease the incidence of PTSD. Other studies have shown that the severity of pain within the first 48 hours of a serious injury has a significant impact on later development of PTSD. The idea is that the administration of morphine and reduction of pain decreases memory consolidation and the associated conditioned response to fear after a person goes through a traumatic event.

While early treatments on the battlefield have inherent limitations, studies such as this may intensify the urgency with which pain-killers are administered to wounded soldiers. These findings are also applicable civilians who undergo severe traumatic injury putting them at risk for PTSD. With the recognition of the far-reaching health implications of PTSD, the development of preventative measures is crucial.

Nicole Myers

To read the full text of this study follow:

Newly discovered antiviral fights HIV, Ebola and other deadly viruses

By Nick Gubitosi            February 4, 2010

A picture of the HIV virus attacking a lymphocyte

A group of researchers lead by scientists from UCLA have identified a “broad spectrum” antiviral small molecule which targets the many envelope encased deadly viruses that exist today.  This antiviral would fight enveloped viruses such as HIV, Ebola, and influenza, as well as viruses that haven’t even been discovered yet.

Dr. Benhur Lee, an associate professor at UCLA, was working with colleagues on 23 various pathogens when they discovered that this antiviral molecule, known as LJ001, only interfered with enveloped viruses through a mechanism which is still not fully understood.

This LJ001 molecule binds to both healthy and viral cells within the body, but only causes harm to the viral cells.  Unlike the healthy cells in your body, viral cells lack the ability to repair themselves because they are not metabolically active.  Therefore the damage done to the viral cells is permanent, while it is completely harmless to the healthy body cells.

Broad spectrum antivirals are hard to find, and usually accompanied with many shortcomings.  One such antiviral, Ribavirin, targets RNA replication and is only effective against a few viruses, is too expensive for widespread use, and produces unwanted side effects.  LJ001 targets viral structure, does not appear to be toxic, and can attack a large group of viruses, making LJ001 the first antiviral of its kind.

Viruses can differ from one another and even mutate as seen with HIV, making them extremely hard to fight off.  Using an antiviral such as LJ001, which safely targets a feature common to an entire class of viruses, may be the potential answer to this problem.

See here for Press Release

Not Your Average Fairytale

By Kristen Kocher                        February 4, 2010

Numerous genetic diseases, especially hereditary brain diseases, are untreatable therefore subjecting many individuals to a life of endless pain and suffering. However, in recent years with the development of the technique of gene therapy, new hope has been brought to life in those diagnosed as “terminally ill” with the promise of the “happily ever after” ending that everyone deserves.

Gene therapy is still not used as a mainstream medical technique because much of the process is still in the developmental stages. Recently, geneticists have been desperately working to perfect the successful transport of therapy genes into brain cells. In many cases, the diseases are caused by a single gene or protein mutation but can cause devastating affects, which normally result in the loss of brain cells and fatality.

A recent scientific breakthrough has finally made it possible for therapy genes to be inserted into brain cells and cure certain genetic diseases.  Before this discovery, therapy genes were only administered through the use of viruses, predominantly the herpes virus, HSV-1. While HSV-1 has the ability to effectively transport large genes into the nucleus of the targeted cells, once the genetic information enters the nucleus it is unable to be integrated into the mammalian, host genome. This proves to be unhelpful as the therapeutic information is quickly silenced and within a few days the effects of gene therapy are no longer visible.  

Another molecule used for gene therapy transport is known as “Sleeping Beauty”. The aforementioned molecule is named as such because it is innately a silent gene that was activated, or “awakened”, by scientists. The discovery of this molecule is beneficial because it has the ability to take the target gene intended for therapy into the nucleus and integrate it directly into the mammalian genome.  The genes transported by Sleeping Beauty, however, must be relatively small, roughly 15 to 30 times less than the amount of DNA carried by HSV-1. This is unfortunate because the genes that are used for treatment of diseased brain cells are predominately large and cannot be carried by Sleeping Beauty.

So, where does the happy ending come in? These two molecules individually have characteristics that make them useful in therapy gene transport but separately cannot aid in the treatment of brain disease. However, thanks to the research of William Bowers, Ph.D. and graduate student Suresh de Silva, this blockade has been removed. With the creation of a hybrid molecule made up of both HSV-1 and Sleeping Beauty, geneticists have been able to successfully integrate large therapy genes into the mammalian genome, which, though current experiments, have resulted in long-term therapeutic gene expression. The creation of this hybrid therapy gene transport molecule promises a bright future and “happy ending” for those suffering from terminal, genetic disease.

Original Press Release

Find out more about the projects going on in Bowers Laboratory

New Drug Shown to Heal Back Pain in 3 Days

By Johnathan Nieves

Source: Belmar-Fitness

Lower back pain is the fifth leading cause for doctor visits in the U.S. and over 85 percent of people suffer at least one bout of lower back pain in their lifetime. SOMA®, a new drug under development by, Meda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Somerset, N.J. based company, has been shown to improve functionality and reduce disability associated with lower back pain in as few as three days as confirmed by patient outcomes data.

The “outcomes data differentiates SOMA® 250 mg among the diverse treatment choices for patients with acute low back pain,” said Steven M. Simon, MD, RPh, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and Biosciences.

“Almost all acute low back pain is mechanical in origin and one in five patients with this condition suffers from significant limitations in activity.  Treatment of acute low back pain with SOMA® 250 mg has been shown to improve functionality, as measured by an internationally validated tool.”

Meda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. claims that SOMA® is the only skeletal muscle relaxant proven to significantly improve functionality in patients with acute low back pain as measured by the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), an internationally validated standard for measuring the degree of disability and functionality in patients with lower back pain.

The Company’s approach to assessing patient symptom progression during SOMA® treatment via the RMDQ is unique in that it is a form of outcomes-based healthcare. Outcomes-based health care has become an increasingly popular and comprehensive approach to healthcare with goals of providing high quality care and reducing treatment costs.

“Overall, the greatest cost savings from a societal perspective may be obtained from interventions that promote early return to work and minimize lost productivity,” said Al Moorad, MD, Medical Director, Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation, Oklahoma City. “This may be accomplished by appropriate drug utilization to allow patients to actively participate in rehabilitation therapy and return to daily activities.”

Meda Pharmaceuticals’ will present its findings this week at the 26th annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in San Antonio, TX.

To learn more about SOMA®, you may visit The original press release pertaining to this article may be viewed at