Skin cancer drug hopes raised by study

27 02 2012

A new treatment for advanced skin cancer almost doubles survival times, according to an international study.

Melanoma is aggressive and dangerous

Doctors say 132 patients in the US and Australia who were given the drug vemurafenib gained several extra months of life.

Research in the New England Journal of Medicine found those in the study lived an average of 16 months, compared with nine months on conventional treatment.

Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) has been approved for use in Europe.

The treatment is one of two drugs for late-stage melanoma, approved on fast-track in the US last year, which offer hope for patients with advanced melanoma.

Before that, there had been no new drugs for the cancer for more than a decade.

Malignant melanoma

  • Melanoma, also called malignant melanoma, is a type of skin cancer that is aggressive and dangerous
  • Melanoma is relatively rare and makes up 10% of all skin cancer cases
  • Melanoma is responsible for most deaths due to skin cancer
  • About 2,000 people die every year in England and Wales from melanoma
  • The main cause of melanoma is believed to be over-exposure to the sun
  • Over using sunbeds and sun lamps may also increase the risk of developing melanoma

Vemurafenib is suitable for about half of patients with advanced melanoma as it targets tumours that express a certain gene mutation.

Dr Antoni Ribas, a professor of haematology/oncology and a researcher at the Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California-Los Angeles, said: “This study shows that Zelboraf changes the natural history of this disease. This data is beyond what I would have expected.

“We’re seeing a significant number of patients with durable responses to the drug, and that the whole group of treated patients is living longer.

“These results tell us that this drug is having a very big impact, and this changes the way we treat metastatic melanoma.”

According to the European Medicines Agency, the drug has been recommended for approval in Europe, pending final authorisation by the European Commission.

Elizabeth Woolf, head of Cancer Research UK’s information website Cancer Help UK, said: “This is an interesting, impressive but relatively small trial of a promising new-generation melanoma drug, which Cancer Research UK is proud to have played a role in developing.”

But she said there were still questions that remain unanswered, not least the cost.

We’re getting somewhere with these targeted drugs but we have a whole raft of research still to do address the issue of resistance”

Kate Law. Cancer Research UK

“Everyone on the trial had the drug, so we cannot tell how large the benefits are, compared to people who didn’t have it, or had another treatment. And because the drug targets a particular gene fault, only half of all melanoma patients are eligible.

“About half of those treated seem to benefit, so it could potentially help roughly a quarter of patients with advanced melanoma overall.

“Looking at these uncertainties, and now that the drug is available to UK cancer patients, it will be interesting to see what price the manufacturer charges so as not to place too great a strain on already scarce NHS resources.”

Drug resistance

Cancer Research UK said once the drug was licensed in Europe, patients would be able to discuss treatment options with their doctor.

In England, patients will have to apply to the Cancer Drugs Fund, the charity said.

Kate Law, director of clinical and population research at Cancer Research UK, said the treatment was one of a new generation of cancer drugs targeted at patients with a specific genetic make-up.

While it offered hope, she said, it was not a cure as the cancer eventually became resistant to the drug.

She told the BBC: “This is not a cure – you’re talking an extra six months of life.

“We’re getting somewhere with these targeted drugs but we have a whole raft of research still to do to address the issue of resistance.”

Bbc.co.uk [en línea] London (UK): bBBC.co.UK 27 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 23 de febrero de 2012] Available on Internet: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17128925



International experts are cited in Seville to discuss a new standard in electronic medical record

23 02 2012

A group of 36 international specialists in computer language applied to the field of electronic medical history have met Friday in the Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocio of Sevilla to analyze a new standard of communication that accelerate electronic medical history at the international level, from the standpoint of interoperability.

The head of the service of technological innovation of this Sevillian hospital, Carlos Parra, explained in speaking to Europa Press that this event is organized jointly with the ‘ EN13606 Association ’, an international non-profit aimed precisely at promoting communication between electronic health record systems (HCE) by means of the standard ISO 13606, of which the Virgin of the dew is a Member.

As explained Parra, This standard has a “growing international interest”, to the extent that “It is already being applied in projects of electronic medical records in Spain, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Ireland Brazil and Australia”.

“What are working now are in a few standard international, where clinical concepts represent computer without clear”, This specialist has outlined, who has advanced the idea that, “Once defined these concepts, in the next step will be the develop a software that could process that language and clinical knowledge”.

Get, It has predicted, “will cause a paradigm shift in health information technology that could speed up in a dizzying manner issues such as the development of clinical trials with international participation from many countries”.

Despite all, He has admitted that at present “There is nothing harder (Conceptually speaking) from the point of view of interoperability that electronic recipe, Since there can be no error”.

Like this, and by way of example, He explained that “an electronic prescription of a German patient prescribed in your country, but you want that they exempt your medicine in a pharmacy from Malaga because it is in our country, you have to be very well represented so there is no doubt in the medicine, the dose, and so on”.

At this point, It wanted to point out that “It is not to be substitute for doctors with the medical informatics using this type of technology, but Yes will help them”.

“In short, in which we are working is to develop a set of ‘ templates ’, where the medical concepts of Cardiology, the pathology or neuropathology, to give some examples, are represented with these ‘ templates’ so the software in any country are developed in accordance with these templates”, It has widened.

Like this, emphasis has been placed, “a doctor may remove their reports without any problems and share them with other software in other part of the world that is compatible with that template. Diraya is already working on this line to represent with these templates”.

RIP of this, He explained that on the agenda of this event have included as well presentations of experiences in the implementation of the standard and the General Assembly of the EN13606 Association. Guest speaker and has attended Professor Dipak Kalra of University College London, Currently Advisor to the European Commission in collaborating and semantic interoperability with entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) in this area.

Parra explained that Kalra already led the process of standardization of this standard in the European Committee for standardisation (CEN) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For this reason, his presentation in this conclave has dealt with the future challenges that must be adopted by HCE systems. In this meeting advances have also been presented in the Virgen del Rocio eHealth Innovation.

Europapress.es [en línea] Madrid (ESP): europapress.es, 23 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 17 de febrero de 2012] Available on Internet:http://www.europapress.es/Andalucia/Sevilla-00357/Noticia-expertos - international-cite-Seville-discuss-new-standard-history-clinic-electronics-20120217131159.html



Histocell will develop a cellular medicine against pulmonary fibrosis from a patent of the CSIC and the Hospital Clínic

20 02 2012

Histocell, theHospital Clínic de Barcelonaand theConsejo Superior de scientific research (CSIC) they have closed a licensing agreement whereby the biotechnological BasqueIt will invest a minimum of three million eurosand its cellular medicine industrialization ability to advance over the next three years in the development of drugs for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.Genome Spain, through theprogram Innocash, will bring to the company 450.000 additional form of loan in EUR.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes irreversible and progressive loss of respiratory capacity. It has an average of three to five years survival from the onset of symptoms, and an average prevalence of 15 cases by each 100.000 people. Currently do not have any effective treatment and conventional treatments to combat it are based on the use of corticosteroids, immunosuppressive and cytotoxic agents, antioxidants and agents antifibroticos, little effective to modify the progression of fibrosis, except in some cases where a slight decrease of the disease has been observed.

In the foreground, the doctors Antoni Xaubet and Anna Serrano – Photo: © Hospital Clínic de Barcelona - IDIBAPS.

The results of theResearch, initiated in 2004 led by theDRA. Ana Serrano, researcher at the CSIC - last Friday participated in thedayChallenges and risks of research in advanced therapies Biocat and TCUB-, and theDr. Antoni Xaubet, physician researcher of Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS, It was patented in 2005. In 2008 He entered the technology portfolio of genome Spain. The results obtained in animal models showed that certain cells from the lung helped recover function lost in affected lungs of idiopathic fibrosis. Based on these results, a programme was initiated clinical in patients with pulmonary fibrosis with bad criteria moderate forecast, who has had with the financial support of genome Spain, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III and the own CSIC, results will be announced throughout of 2012.

Histocell, of bollard Bioscience Group, It specialises in engineering of tissue and cell therapy for its application in regenerative medicine. Its technology is based on the use of adult stem cells prediferenciadas or not prediferenciadas and applied alone or in combination with next generation biomaterials. This project the positions among companies pioneers in the application of cell therapies in the treatment of lung diseases.

In addition to the three million euros committed now, intended to extend clinical trials in patients and to ensure the technical viability of the expansion of lung cells, Histocell intends to undertake thesubsequent phases of clinical development, for which one opens soonround of capital increase. Its director-general, July Font, He explains that "it is a unique opportunity to apply a cell therapy to modify the development of a disease that has no treatment", "with the prospect of reaching patients in very less than usual in this type of development". You could start yourapplication of generalized way from 2013.

El Dr. Angel Knight, Deputy Vice President of the CSIC knowledge transfer manager, He has stated that "the agreement is a great example of how research in public environments may transfer to the industry". El Dr. Joan Bigorra, Director of innovation of Drospital Clínic, It highlights that "thanks to the character translational research", result of a close collaboration between basic and clinical scientists, "has been achieved transcend the academic environment and give respite to the industry to realize the transformation of knowledge into economic and social value".

Biocat.cat [en línea] Barcelona (ESP): biocat.cat, 20 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 23 in January of 2012] Available on Internet:http://es/noticias/histocell-desarrollara-un-medicamento-celular-contra-la-fibrosis-pulmonar-de-una-patente-del-csic-y-el-hospital-clinic www.biocat.cat/



In health, Spain is a 2-3% market and a 21% Siemens global debt

16 02 2012

Spain is a 2 or a 3 per cent of the global market for Siemens in the health sector. However, the debt that dragged the Spanish administrations with the company, 280 million, assumes a 21 per cent of the global debt with the Siemens Healthcare sector. The President of Siemens Spain, Rosa Garcia, He has put on the table this data during their participation in a forum organized by the Journalists Association of economic information that has presented Spain the company's strategy for the coming years.

"We are concerned about much debt of administrations with the sector health", Garcia has pointed out, referred to the information already made public by Fenin and recalled that a problem is not only the economic amount of debt, but also the increase over the legality of payments. "It is a very worrying situation", Stressing.

In recent months there has been speculation with the possibility that some multinationals are were raised not to bring the latest health technologies to Spain. Although it has not raised its category over the rumor, What is true is that big international companies with a presence in Spain are concerned by the situation in the health sector in our country and the substantial debt that accumulated, having been movements by Chambers of Commerce warned foreign settled in Spain to claim the Government solution. In this sense, Garcia has secured more than rethink implanted or not in Spain latest technologies, It Siemens is trying to "do reflect on the need for health managers have last generation equipment in all facilities or only in some hospitals".

"We are sitting with those responsible for the health of the different communities and different hospitals to make them see that the need is to rationalize what they already have", Garcia explained. In addition, It has ensured that they are making proposals to the centres and administrations to opt for ways of financing or acquisition of equipment, e.g. the renting or pay per use. "We must help the Spanish health system to rationalize its resources".

Grow up a turnover of 2.000 million

Rosa Garcia made this reference to the health sector of Siemens in the framework of the presentation of the company's strategy for the coming years. In this sense, emphasised that the aim is to achieve a turnover of 2.000 million euros in Spain in 2017. And for this purpose, the company is committed to make progress in four areas. On the one hand, the health sector, working to make health care more affordable and personalized, more in one country than in 2050 will be the most aged of Europe. On the other hand, Siemens considers to improve in the field of energy efficiency, industrial productivity and provide smart solutions for cities and infrastructures.

Ms Rosa García intervention video links, delegate Councillor of Siemens in Forum the APIE Spain:

1-http://blip.tv/sanitaria-2000/rosa-garcia_presidenta-de-siemens-españa_01-5928178

"The" 21 "percent of the debt health world of Siemens is in Spain".

2-http://blip.tv/sanitaria-2000/rosa-garcia_presidenta-de-siemens-españa_02-5928195

"A more personalized health would save up a" 60 "per cent in medical tests carried out".

Redaccionmedica.es [en línea] Madrid (ESP): redaccionmedica.es, 16 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 03 de febrero de 2012] Available on Internet:http://www.redaccionmedica.es/Noticia/Espana-supone-El-21-por-ciento-de-la-deuda-que-arrastra-El-sector-Salud-de-Siemens-a-Nivel-Mundial-6014



Africa: ICT for refugees and displaced persons

13 02 2012

In the last few weeks Global Voices has submitted to its readers more examples of how average citizens are used to amplify the voices of refugees and displaced persons. However, While blogs and social networking sites clearly have a role to play in the empowerment of marginalized groups, so do the ICT in general.

MobileActive, for example, was encouraged by the potential of mobile phones [in] allowing refugees not only to remain in contact with their loved ones, but that is also easier to locate them. Attention to this topic is particularly covered by a special issue of the Forced migration magazine [in], It offers a vision deep in the use of ICT in this context.

 

Refugees in Uganda are using SMS and mobile phones to reconnect with members of their families and close friends. Photo via MobileActive

“Refugees often suffer a double trauma: The situation that led them to flee in the first place, as well as the fact that many families are separated during the migration. For the health of refugees, their well-being and the possibility of relocating, is of vital importance to know the whereabouts of their relatives, its security and its ability to stay in touch. Today, mobile phones are the most important technology to enable refugees to find their relatives and stay in touch.

Forced migration number 38, in its edition of the technology theme, It covers those technologies for refugees in particular. Two chapters shed light on the use of mobile phones among refugees, as well as some of the problems that brings the use of this technology to find and contact the members of the family, such as security and accessibility issues.”

The United Nations Deputy Commissioner for refugees, T Alexander Aleinikoff, provides an Introduction to the special issue [in]:

“At least superficially, today's refugee camps do not appear significantly different from those that existed 30 o 40 years ago. The upgrade seems to have gone long. But a look more than close, and it is evident that things are changing

Today, refugees and internally displaced persons in poor countries often have access to a mobile phone and are able to watch television via satellite. Internet cafes have sprung up in some settlements, with hardware purchased by entrepreneurs refugees or donated by humanitarian organizations such as UNHCR. And same aid agencies are making ever more use of advanced technology: geographic information systems, Skype, biometric databases and Google Earth, to give just a few examples.”

In an article, the example of a project of tracking established by the Consortium for the refugees of Kenya (PTF), in cooperation with refugees United (RU) It is highlighted [in]:

“In 1991, Ahmed Hassan Osman ** fled the conflict in Somalia, leaving his family in Kismayu, and he went to Kenya in search of asylum. Ahmed lived for a time in the Ifo refugee camp, before being resettled in Colorado in the United States.UU. where was granted full citizenship of the United States.UU.

In 1992, his cousin, Abdulahi Sheikh arrived Kenya in search of support. Recognized as a refugee, Abdulahi ended in the Dagahaley in Dadaab camp. He believed that Ahmed was in Dadaab or had been there, but their efforts to find him were unsuccessful and soon gave up hope of finding it. In fact, I thought that Abdulahi Ahmed had returned to Somalia.

At the beginning of 2011 PTF employment Abdulahi that attend with RU project at the Dagahaley refugee camp. Abdulahi registration with the tracking project and began a search for their loved ones. Having found a name that was family, Abdulahi got in touch with this person through the UK message system. When he received a response he realized that, After 20 years of separation and search, He had found his dear cousin. Phone numbers were exchanged and Ahmed called, breaking 20 years of silence. Today, the two kept in regular contact and both Abdulahi Ahmed, they continue the search for more friends and family.”

Of course, as MobileActive also stresses, still some problems with the local infrastructure being an obstacle to the widespread adoption of these systems [in]:

“In some parts of Africa there is no coverage of the telecommunications. The workshop participants commented that, where there are, telephone connections cut regularly, and some of them had also experienced the intrusion in communications, such as crossed lines. Overseas network signal strength is weak, and the lack of a reliable or stable source of electricity in the country of destination can be a major problem, Although this varies by region. The growth of the population in some areas weakens the strength of the network, due to the leakage of energy. Persons may also have difficulties to access electricity and thus load their mobile phones.

[…]

Finding the best technology for different members of the family can be difficult, particularly if they themselves are displaced, due to factors such as the variety of services available, If the Member of the family can afford them and if you have the skills and knowledge to use these technologies. A participant noted that the majority of the members of his family abroad needed access to communication technology through others. One participant described the difficulties encountered in contacting her husband in a camp. She sent him money to her husband that it bought a phone, but others in the camp also used, leaving it to her waiting for hours to get in touch.

Cheap options, such as e-mail, voice over Internet or instant messaging may not be accessible or affordable, and access to the Internet in Africa is very expensive. In addition, the members of the family moved abroad may not know how to use these facilities.”

From providing access to information on health and educational opportunities to refugees, until the use of Facebook, Gmail and Skype chat for keeping in contact with friends and family through the geographical divide, the issue offers a complete picture of how ICTs are being used.

Ushahidi also receives a mention in connection with the earthquake of 2010 in Haiti [in], as well as, in general, in regards to conflicts, disasters and refugees [in]. In fact, the”Idea Lab from PBS, gives a look at the collaboration between Al Jazeera and Ushahidi to connect and empower the Somali separated by the conflict and hunger [in]:

“Somalia is a collaboration between Souktel, an organization headquartered in Palestine that provides SMS messaging services, Ushahidi, Al Jazeera, Crowdflower, and the Institute of the African Diaspora. "We wanted to know the perspective of Somali citizens that tells us how the crisis has affected their lives and the somali diaspora", Soud told Jazeera Hyder, in an interview.

[…]

The goal of Somali-speaking is to add the voices not heard from within the region, as well as the diaspora Somali asking them to respond by text message: How has it affected the conflict in Somalia of his life?? Responses are translated into English and are drawn on a map. Since its launch, a few 3.000 SMS messages you have received.

[…]

For Al Jazeera, Somalia also speaks is an opportunity to test innovative approaches of the mobile media for citizens and journalism.”

In October of 2010, MobileActive also showed a Mobile project implemented by the United refugee in Uganda [in], with the support of Ericsson, UNHCR and the Omidyar Network, pointing out that a blog called it "the social network that is more important than Facebook".

Es.globalvoiceonline.org [en línea] Amsterdam (NED): ES.globalvoiceonline.org, 13 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 05 de febrero de 2012] Available on Internet:http://es.globalvoicesonline.org/2012/02/05/africa-icts-para-refugiados-y-personas-desplazadas/



Converts text to interactive iPad form medical massive startup

9 02 2012

San Francisco-based startup Inkling has introduced an interactive, custom-built iPad version of a popular medical school textbook that could not be properly rendered on a typical e-reader.

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, published by McGraw-Hill, is a 4,400-page title in print. The iPad version adds interactive animations and other multimedia elements – enough digital content to fill 57 additional chapters – including more than five hours of instructional video.

Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis tells MobiHealthNews that Amazon.com’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Kobo and other popular e-readers really have no facility for handling tables and multimedia. For that matter, many e-reader apps are not well-suited for interactive medical content because the information has to be verified for accuracy.

Typically when a publisher prepares a novel for an e-reader, a computer merely dumps the text and formatting into a template, the process that takes a matter of seconds. But with medical texts, someone needs to curate the content to assure everything is correct. “If the dosage is wrong, I can’t blame it on Kindle,” MacInnis says.

Inkling has built a digital publishing platform for what MacInnis calls “difficult” topics, such as science and medicine, just for this purpose. “People on our team had to sit there and curate all of the content from the ground up,” MacInnis says.

But the payoff is rich content and fast information retrieval. “[People] can search all 4,400 pages in a second,” MacInnis says. Users can even search inside of video content and inside of animated guided tours, he adds.

Inkling also offers digital content for preclinical medical education, but MacInnis says that Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine is by far the largest project the company, which is a little more than two years old, has done to date.

Right now, the platform is only available for Apple’s iPad, though MacInnis says Inkling plans to expand to other operating systems.

View a demo of the iPad version of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine here.

Mobilehealthnews.com [en línea] Boston (USA): mobilehealthnews.com, 8 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 31 in January of 2012] Available on Internet: http://mobihealthnews.com/16148/startup-converts-massive-medical-text-to-interactive-ipad-form/



Dr VALDERAS: Rationalization of expenditure on health: How to make the need for virtue

6 02 2012

Jose M Valderas

Director of the research group in services and health policy in the Department of primary care at the University of Oxford.

 

It is said that the word crisis is written in Chinese with two characters, It is by separate one to "danger" and "opportunity". This comment reviews how to transform the current critical economic circumstances of the health care system into an opportunity for improvement and modernisation.

Everyone is aware that in the current economic circumstances, imposes a severe rationalisation of expenditure on health. This is always necessary in the context of a national health system, but the dizzying reduction in the capacity of expenditure of public administrations makes it a problem. The best proof that this is true, provided by own health professionals who have been snapping successive cuts in their working conditions with a relative stoicism, While many lately wonder with reason if not they will be supporting more than what is reasonable.

The problem is compounded if we take into account that there are two powerful forces that lead naturally to a progressive increase in healthcare costs. The first is the emergence of novel diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives, with a significant added cost. The second has to do with the progressive ageing of the population, which brings about an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, It will require treatment prolonged in time, and the extension to an increasing proportion of the population of interventions such as prosthetic hip or cataract surgery.

The problem is both particularly acute and the relevant questions are two: si es posible (and desirable) undertake this task aIf possibleible, which formulas exist for such rationalization.

The first is not a rhetorical question.  A health system is intrinsically complex. The British national health system, for example, It is the fourth largest employer in the world. The nature of such structures is unable to apply simple and effective solutions. The changes aimed to alter the State of things often modify elements and was not expected to change and relationships that can in turn generate unexpected changes. Without speaking of a "butterfly effect", Yes it is true that the effects are not as predictable as that would be desirable.  All this does not deny the possibility of reform and adjustment tasks, simply says that the results are not necessarily the anticipated.

But there is an additional incentive to undertake reforms in contexts such as the current. Given the unpopularity of any measure that is not in the sense of increasing the catalogue of services and the autonomy of professionals (circumstances they usually go hand in hand, Although that one thinks seriously it is not clear that it has to be so), is in contexts such as the current, in which the health reforms can count on increased popular support. And this is one of the main engines of the political decisions. Think for example of the creation of the British national health system, What happened at the end of the second world.

In relation to how to tackle the rationalization of expenditure, It is appropriate to address both the supply and the demand for services (what there is to do), as to its effectiveness (their results) and its cost, the principle of equity: to each according to his need. In this task of adjusting the system to funding possibilities necessary to identify and protect those services that result in greater benefits at lower cost.

Instruments to achieve it are not new. The overwhelming evidence for primary care as a key element of the system is that promotion is equal in this sense to start the House by the foundations detriment certainly most spectacular alternatives but doubtful success. It would be not wise to deduce that the other elements of the system are secondary, But what is undeniable, It is that they require a primary care at the highest level to give the best of themselves at the same time.

The judicious application of evidence-based medicine in many circumstances provides arguments to choose safe and effective treatment, avoiding what does not benefit any or may even be harmful. In relation to the previous, It is still valid that it tends to be better to prevent than cure, but also including prevention as the Quaternary, This is the avoidance of overexposure of patients to health interventions. Techniques, medications and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures optimal yields obtained when applied to conveniently selected populations. Precisely for that reason,his generalisation (both the less ill than the studied patients, as well as patients much more complex than those included in clinical trials) tends to generalize their harmful effects, but not positive.

It should also align the incentives of the professionals with the system in which they operate and the patients. Is all this a lot easier to say that do. Various formulas have been studied aimed at diverse groups: economic incentives aimed mainly at professionals, but also to patients, harassment behaviors that result in high health costs (tobacco, road safety), the reputation of service providers-oriented incentives, etc. Although none of them is free from adverse or unexpected effects, It is important to expand the research in these areas.

 

In summary, the rationalization of expenditure is now more necessary than ever, but it also offers opportunities to remove grease from the system. While the alternatives are not limited to the elements outlined in this comment because space (see for example the dubious desirability of health co-payments in the terms in which currently occurs in the public debate), There is little doubt that a proper emphasis in primary care, the constant demand for empirical confirmation that endorses the clinical and organizational decisions and the alignment of incentives for workers to determine the allocation of system resources are elements that should be part of efforts to restore the health system costs.



They transform skin into cells of the nervous system

2 02 2012

Scientists in United States managed to turn skin cells directly into major cellular components of the nervous system.

 

In the experiment, carried out in mice, the researchers of the School of medicine at Stanford University, California, they didn't have to resort to the process of generation of stem cells.

Scientists turned skin cells into the three main types of nerve cells.

And this new process of “direct conversion” It opens the possibility to obtain any type of cell in the human body without having to depend on the reprogramming of adult cells or embryonic stem cells.

Research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (PNAS) (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), managed to generate neural precursor cells, which can become both the main types of cells in the nervous system, including neurons.

As scientists express, the discovery opens up the possibility of being able to use this technique for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

But to be still carrying out more tests to confirm that the procedure can be used with human skin.

Stem cells can become any type of specialized cell in the human body and why it has been thought to have an enormous potential for the treatment of many diseases.

Currently being conducted several clinical trials with stem cells to treat patients who suffered cerebrovascular disease through forms of blindness from.

One of the main obstacles in this field, mainly ethical, It is the source from where come these pluripotent stem cells: the embryos.

The scientists found an alternative method: the use of adult cells, taken from the patient, It can be reprogrammed into stem cells “induced”, able to return the type of cell that is required.

This process, However, It has resulted in the activation of cancer causing genes.

Direct conversion

Stanford scientists now seem to have found another alternative that avoids the need to create induced pluripotent stem cells: the direct conversion of the patient in specialized cells skin cells.

The same team of scientists had already managed to transform skin of mice directly into neurons.

"We are very excited with the prospect of power"

using these cells in potential treatments “

Prof. Marius Wernig

And could now create precursor cells or “suckler” of the nervous system, which can develop in the three main types of nerve cells: neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.

The advantage of these precursor cells is that once they are created they can be grown in a laboratory and generate huge numbers of cells, which is extremely important if they are to be used in any treatment.

The skin cells and nerve cells contain the same genetic information. However, each interprets the genetic code in a different way.

This process of interpretation is controlled by the so-called “transcription factors”.

“Infection”

The scientists used a virus to “infect” the cells of the skin with three transcription factors that are known are in large numbers in the neural precursors.

Three weeks later, almost an of each 10 skin cells turned into precursor neural.

“We are very excited with the prospect of being able to use these cells in potential treatments” expresses the Professor Marius Wernig, who conducted the study.

“Showed that cells can integrate into the brain of a mouse and produce a missing protein which is very important for conduction of electrical signals in neurons”.

“This is important because the model of mice we simulated a human genetic brain disease”.

“However, We need to do more studies to generate similar cells from human skin and analyze its safety and effectiveness” Adds the scientist.

For its part, Dr. Deepak Srivastava, who is investigating the conversion of heart muscle cells, says that the study “It opens the possibility of considering new ways to regenerate damaged neurons using the cells surrounding the area of the lesion”.

Bbc.co.uk [en línea] London (UK): BBC.co.UK, 2 de febrero de 2012 [REF. 31 in January of 2012] Available on Internet:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2012/01/120131_celulas_piel_cerebrales_men.shtml