News From The Journal Of Biological Chemistry

Nicotine’s Effects are Receptor Specific

Following chronic nicotine exposure, nicotine receptors increase in number, an upregulation that contributes to nicotine’s addictive properties. While a current belief is that this process is independent of the type of nicotine receptor, researchers have now uncovered this is not the case: the transient and prolonged changes in the nicotine levels of smokers each affect a specific receptor subtype.

The predominant subtype of nicotine receptor in the brain is known as A4B2; these receptors upregulate as nicotine levels gradually rise in the blood. Generally, they start increasing about 2-3 hours following exposure and peak after about 20 hours.

Due to lower prevalance, the upregulation, if any, of minor nicotine receptor subtypes has been difficult, but William Green and colleagues successfully developed cells expressing A6B2 nicotine receptors. They then demonstrated this class also undergoes nicotine upregulation, but at a much faster rate; A6B2 receptors increase within minutes of exposure and peak after only 2 hours.

These receptors also required about 10 times as much nicotine to stimulate as A4B2 receptors, a level that would only be reached during the brief spikes in nicotine levels occurring during smoking. These results offer new insights into the different phases of smoking, highlighting that separate receptors modulate the immediate and long term effects of nicotine.

Corresponding Authors: William Green, Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Illinois

Two-protein Complex Protects Nerve Cells

Since its discovery as a protein that gets specifically released in response to brain injury, ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) has prompted much interest as a potential therapeutic agent. However, numerous experiments have met with limited success, until now; a research team shows that co-administrating CNTF with its receptor promotes the growth and survival of neurons.

While the receptor for CNTF is normally tied to the surface of neurons, this tether is frequently chopped off during trauma, which led Mark Ozog, Christian Naus and colleagues to suspect that CNTF and the free-floating receptor might act in a complex.

They treated mouse neurons with CNTF, its receptor (CNTFR), or both and then exposed the cells to massive amounts of the neurotransmitter glutamate, enough to kill the neurons by over-stimulating them. CNTF or CNTFR alone did not protect the neurons, but the two complexed together could. In addition, the complex could foster increased growth of nerve cells.

Ozog, Naus and colleagues next ran a microarray analysis of the CNTF complex and found that it altered the expression of 47 genes associated with nerve growth and survival, suggesting it protects neurons through multiple direct and indirect mechanisms and thus making it a strong therapeutic candidate.

Corresponding Author: Christian Naus, Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, CA


The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 11,900 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions and industry. The Society’s student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society’s purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific work force.

For more information about ASBMB, see the Society’s Web site at asbmb/.

Source: Nick Zagorski

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

BMA UK Renews Support For Presumed Consent For Organ Donation

Doctors today renewed their support for changing the UK’s organ donation system from informed to presumed consent.

It follows a debate at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference in Cardiff called for by Swansea-based Dr Sharon Blackford who proposed a motion that the BMA change the position held for more than a decade.

A number of medics expressed concern that the stance could damage patient trust or “turn people off” donation. But others said switching to presumed consent was needed because around three people in the UK die each day while waiting for an organ transplant.

Delegates finally voted against Dr Blackford’s motion.
No part of the UK has introduced a system of presumed consent yet, although the Welsh Government has said it intends to.

More than 3,700 organ transplants took place last year – a 5% rise on the previous year – but there are currently more than 7,500 people on the waiting list.

Over the past three years, NHS Blood and Transplant has with Government approval invested in recruiting more specialist nurses to identify potential donors and support families through the donation process.


NHS Blood and Transplant

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Feature Highlights Recent Blog Entries

“Blog Watch” offers readers a roundup of health policy-related blog posts.

The Senate finally confirmed Kathleen Sebelius as HHS secretary this week, but some coverage was quick to note that at least 19 positions at HHS requiring Senate confirmation remain unfilled, including FDA commissioner. The Treatment’s Jonathan Cohn jumped on the delay in light of the swine flu epidemic and made several calls to see if any of the confirmations could be moved up. The general answer he received? “Nobody I reached seemed to think so. And, oddly, nobody seemed too worked up about the delay,” Cohn noted. Cohn lists nominee Margaret Hamburg’s qualifications for FDA commissioner and concludes, “While the government is — by virtually all accounts — doing a great job so far, Hamburg would provide expertise as well as, if not better than, anybody in the country. “

Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog takes note of the Obama administration’s $1.5 billion request for fighting the H1N1 swine flu and says the federal government’s response could be a “defining moment”: “This is big and very visible. If the administration appears competent and does this right (or if they’re lucky), momentum for reform will grow. If the government proves impotent in changing the course of this emerging epidemic (or if they’re unlucky), second thoughts will emerge and public support for health reform could wane significantly.”

The top HHS official is now in place, but the media are still scrambling to uncover the details of Senate Democrats’ closed-door health reform negotiations, reading the tea leaves in the absence of any leaked documents. CJR’s Trudy Lieberman on Campaign Desk thinks Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is leaning against a so-called public plan: “It’s sounding more and more like the senator won’t let those who may be required to carry health insurance choose to buy it from a public plan that might compete with commercial insurers.” But then, she points out that he made comments suggesting U.S. residents could buy plans in a national exchange “similar to Massachusetts.” Lieberman says, “Was Baucus mixing up his terms or signaling a different type of ‘public’ plan? … This is very different from what some public plan advocates are envisioning: a public plan like the Medicare program, where the government provides the benefits.”

On the Republican side, Michael Cannon of CatoLiberty says he has been “reliably informed” that House Republicans will not be including an individual mandate in any health reform proposal. This is following his post on Monday arguing against such an inclusion.

Interesting Elsewhere:
Bob Lazsewski of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review hosts the most recent edition of Health Wonk Review, a biweekly compendium of more than two dozen health policy, infrastructure, insurance, technology and managed care bloggers. A different blogger hosts each issue.

TIE of the Finance Buff offers the last of his three primers on Medicare, this time focusing on the prescription drug benefit known as Part D.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, says in the New York Times’ Economix that financial officials could learn something from public health officials’ ability to respond to crises.

John Iglehart of the Health Affairs Blog posts highlights from a roundtable on public health insurance options with Jacob Hacker, Len Nichols and Stuart Butler.
Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Schizophrenia Linked For First Time To Chromosome Region In Study Led By Stanford Scientists

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have played a major role in an international effort that has shown, for the first time, that modern genetic technologies can solve the riddle of how gene variations lead to schizophrenia.

Researchers at Stanford and 14 other institutions carried out a study of common DNA variations throughout the genome, and then combined forces with two independent studies to complete a pooled analysis of 27,000 individuals. The largest genetic differences between the study participants with and without schizophrenia were found on a stretch of chromosome 6 containing numerous genes associated with immune response (and some with other roles). This raises the possibility that immune function plays a role in schizophrenia.

Stanford’s Jianxin Shi, PhD, and Douglas Levinson, MD, are first and second authors of one of three linked papers to be published online together in Nature on July 1. Their paper reports on the Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia Project. This undertaking implicated a region of the human genome not previously suspected as a risk factor for schizophrenia. That finding was bolstered by another of the simultaneously published papers, which showed an even stronger association when the number of subjects was increased to almost 48,000, and identified significant association in two additional genes. The third paper shows that there are likely to be many common gene variations, perhaps hundreds or more, that have small effects in the risk of schizophrenia.

Taken together, “the papers present the first highly significant findings of gene regions associated with schizophrenia risk,” said Levinson, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, director of that department’s Program on the Genetics of Brain Function, and the Walter E. Nichols, MD, Professor in the School of Medicine.

It is already known that schizophrenia-which strikes close to one in every 100 people-has a very strong genetic component, probably accounting for at least 80 percent of risk for this disease. However, unlike sickle-cell anemia or Huntington’s disease, in which a defect at a single genetic location is responsible, most cases of schizophrenia are believed to involve interactions among a multitude of genes, with a variant of any single gene contributing only a tiny bit to a person’s risk.

“That makes it hard to tease out, in a statistically significant way, any of these schizophrenia-associated genes,” said Levinson. But it is feasible with very large numbers of subjects, he said. Finding genes involved in a multigenic trait can, at least in theory, be accomplished by means of so-called genome-wide association studies, in which DNA variations are measured in two large groups of people, one with a common pathology and the other without it.

To achieve the needed sample size, data from three independent studies were pooled and analyzed in a special way that corrected for differences in how those disparate studies were designed and run. Such a methodology is called a meta-analysis. Shi, a research scientist in Levinson’s laboratory, designed and performed the meta-analysis on the resulting pooled-subject group, some 8,000 individuals with schizophrenia and 19,000 normal controls of European ancestry. (Restricting the study population to people of similar ancestry excludes numerous non-disease-related genetic differences that would otherwise be observed, Shi said.)

In 1999, when Levinson and Shi’s study began, genomic technologies were nowhere near as advanced as they are today. But the recent hybridization of Silicon Valley-style microelectronics with biotechnology-bred DNA assay techniques has resulted in powerful new microarrays capable of scanning entire genomes for tiny variations called “single base-pair polymorphisms,” or SNPs.

A DNA base pair is effectively the genome’s smallest possible accounting unit-the penny, as it were, of genetic variation. As a simplified analogy, think of your genetic inheritance as a stack of 3 billion pennies, with each coin bearing one of four mint marks. If you set two such stacks (representing two individuals’ genomes) side by side and compare two adjacent pennies’ mint marks at any given height, they’ll usually be the same. We’re all descendants of a common ancestor, so the similarities in our genomic sequences shouldn’t surprise anyone.

But evolution happens. Every few hundred “pennies” or so, you will observe a divergence, or SNP-one chemical “mint mark” on this genome, another on that one. With the human genome being so huge, this comes to something like 10 million SNPs, of which about a million occur with frequencies of at least 5 percent.

Using commercially available “SNP chips” designed to detect those more-common variants, the investigators looked for differences between the DNA of people with schizophrenia versus the DNA of those without the disease. The scientists required that such differences achieve “genome-wide statistical significance.” Here’s why: If you flip a million coins, one at a time, you’re going to see all kinds of seemingly miraculous events-say, 15 heads in a row-that may seem significant but are typical when you toss even a perfectly balanced coin so many times.

Shi’s job was to devise analytical techniques to determine whether the “finding” of a SNP’s greater likelihood among schizophrenics was real or spurious. The genomic region on chromosome 6 survived this rigorous statistical test.

“These findings show that our genetic methods are working, and that the genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia can be understood,” said Levinson. “Similar methods have produced critical new discoveries in many other common diseases, once very large numbers of people could be studied. Now we see that the same approach works for psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.”

Pablo Gejman, MD, of Northwestern University was the senior author of the paper. Stanford co-author Alice Whittemore, PhD, professor of health research and policy, consulted on the study’s meta-analytic methodology. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

The Stanford University School of Medicine

New Self Contained Stem Cell Workstation Makes Atmospheric Control Easier – Ruskinn Launches SCI-tive Workstation

Ruskinn has announced the launch of its innovative, Stem Cell Investigations total in vitro environment workstation – SCI-tive – specifically designed for both embryonic and adult stem cell isolation, optimisation, differentiation and incubation within a totally enclosed controlled culture environment. Working under controlled conditions is essential to ensure the cell differentiation process does not result in inappropriate cell types. Using the SCI-tive workstation, researchers are able to monitor the internal environment of the workstation and control temperature, humidity and gas concentrations.

The small footprint of the SCI-tive workstation saves valuable laboratory space, with reduced need for other gas controlled incubators and Class 2 biological safety cabinets. The Ezee Sleeve™ Bare-hand System enables all processes to be carried out within the workstation, whilst integrated microscopy and digital software makes whole process monitoring, tracking and calibration possible without disturbing the carefully controlled atmosphere.

Controlled conditions during stem cell investigations can improve the rate of differentiation and the quality of stem cells produced. The SCI-tive workstation’s in vitro environment assists compliance with the EU Tissues and Cells Directive (2004/23/EU).

The SCI-tive workstation also incorporates Ruskinn’s latest and most advanced gas mixing system – the Gas Mixer Q – enabling cells to be examined under precise O2 and CO2 tension in hepa filtered air. Built for maximum ease-of-use, the Gas Mixer Q touch screen user interface enables accurate atmospheric control with easy to interpret visual displays and intelligent environmental stability monitoring. The one touch auto-calibration function means the user can check the O2 sensor calibration without disrupting the delicate environment of the workstation.

About Ruskinn Technology Ltd

The Ruskinn brand was founded in 1993 and rapidly became established as one of the world’s leading suppliers of gas controlled, anaerobic and modified atmosphere workstations. In 2006, the independent Ruskinn Group of companies – Ruskinn Technology Limited and Ruskinn Life Sciences – was formed after a short transition period as part of Biotrace International.

Administration and production is sited at the ultra-modern Sony Pencoed plant in South Wales. Ruskinn is one of an elite group of UK medical companies offered the opportunity by Sony to co-locate and share the benefits of Sony’s renowned production know-how and infrastructure.

Ruskinn products are available through a worldwide network of carefully selected distributors. Sales in Nordic Region and the US are made by Ruskinn’s own staff.

Ruskinn Technology Ltd

Pharmacists Give Bad Advice On Stroke Symptoms

Building on separate studies showing that primary care doctors’ offices and “healthline” operators at academic hospitals fail to recognize stroke symptoms when asked for medical advice, a WVU research team has confirmed that pharmacists are equally likely to make the same mistakes.

In research dating back at least five years, WVU emergency medicine physicians have presented a hypothetical stroke scenario difficulty speaking and weakness on one side of the body to various medical professionals and members of the public.

The correct response would be to advise the caller to seek 911 transport to a hospital emergency department, where so-called “clot-busting” drugs administered within a three-hour window can help many stroke victims.

In the new study, WVU researchers called 71 pharmacies, posing as persons asking about a 68-year-old mother who was having trouble talking and experiencing paralysis on her left side. Four of five pharmacies gave out incorrect information, failing to urge the caller to seek immediate emergency help.

“In all of the studies we have undertaken during the past five years whether we’re surveying primary care doctors or elderly people at senior centers we find that about 30 percent say that the proper response to such symptoms is to wait and see if they get better,” said Charles Whiteman, M.D., a doctor of emergency medicine at WVU.

“This is exactly the wrong response, because clot-busing drugs are effective only if administered during that three-hour window,” Dr. Whiteman explained. “After arriving at the emergency room, the patient must first have tests to make sure there’s been no bleeding in the brain. Delay in seeking treatment burns through that three-hour window.”

The pharmacists weren’t simply asked to respond out of the blue. They were given four possible choices should we take our 68-year-old mother to the hospital, call for an ambulance, consult her primary care doctor or just wait to see if her symptoms resolve?

Even with the prompting, only one out of five pharmacies chose the correct course of action. In the majority of the calls, the person giving the advice was the pharmacist himself or herself. Of the 71 responses, only five came from technicians or assistants and one came from a pharmacy student.

A.J. Monseau, M.D., a second-year emergency medicine resident at WVU and lead author, presented a poster titled “Advice to a Stroke Scenario by Pharmacists in the United States” at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference Feb. 17 to 20 in San Diego.

An abstract of previous WVU research involving primary care physicians’ offices was published in the medical journal Stroke in 2008. In 2007 Stroke published results of the WVU study involving national healthline operators.

WVU researchers also have asked the stroke-scenario question of people at shopping malls and the elderly at seven senior centers in West Virginia. All of the studies have shown similar results: approximately 30 percent of respondents choose the wait-and-see course of action, Whiteman said.

Whiteman explained that pharmacists were chosen for the most recent study because a national pharmacy chain was advertising its pharmacies as a place for the public to turn to for medical advice.

Just as the public has been schooled to seek treatment immediately when heart-attack symptoms occur, people must also understand the urgency of seeking emergency help when symptoms suggest the onset of a stroke, Whiteman said. Educational campaigns should target not only older people who are at higher risk of stroke but also those who care for them such as close family members and all types of health providers.

West Virginia University Health Sciences Center
PO Box 9083
WV 26506-9083
United States

Medtronic Announces Two Worldwide Clinical Trials To Study Medical Device Interventions For Stroke

Each year, approximately 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke1 in the United States, and approximately a half million people in Western Europe are similarly afflicted2. Today, Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) announces two significant clinical trials related to medical device interventions for stroke. First enrollments in the global CRYSTAL AF (Study of Continuous Cardiac Monitoring to Assess Atrial Fibrillation After Cryptogenic Stroke) trial have taken place. The trial will use the Reveal® XT Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) to assess the incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with cryptogenic stroke (stroke of an undetermined cause) or transient ischemic attack (TIA) in order to aid physicians in determining the optimal course of treatment for these patients. It is widely recognized that patients with sustained AF are at increased risk of stroke3.

A second trial, called SISTERS (Spasticity In Stroke – Randomized Study), is being initiated at centers in Europe and the United States to compare the effectiveness of Intrathecal Baclofen (ITB) Therapy to best medical therapy in managing generalized, severe, post-stroke spasticity (tightening of the muscles). This clinical trial is designed to add to the body of clinical evidence for ITB Therapy, which is FDA-approved for the treatment of post-stroke spasticity.

“The clinical trials announced today showcase Medtronic’s wide and deep expertise and our commitment to the management of those who have suffered a stroke by reducing its spasticity consequences and maximizing preventive therapy for future strokes,” said Rick Kuntz, M.D., president of the Neuromodulation business and senior vice president at Medtronic. “Stroke is a chronic disease that affects a large population of patients and these two studies seek to provide a higher level of clinical evidence for important medical device interventions that can aid in the diagnosis of stroke as well as the management of intractable spasticity, which is a common outcome of stroke.”

About AF, Stroke and the CRYSTAL AF Trial

Stroke can be the result of intracerebral or subarachnoid hemorrhage or more commonly, from a blood clot embolism causing acute blockage of a major brain vessel, a so-called ischemic stroke (lack of blood supply to the brain). In many cases, a cause for the ischemic stroke is identified, but in more than one-fourth of cases, the cause remains unexplained. AF is one of the most common irregular heart rhythms, affecting up to seven million people worldwide; it is known that AF is an independent risk factor for stroke, increasing risk about five-fold3. The American and European stroke guidelines4,5 recommend a change in medication from antiplatelet drugs to oral anticoagulants when a stroke patient is found to have AF.

CRYSTAL AF will involve approximately 450 cryptogenic stroke or TIA patients without a prior history of AF, at 45 centers in Europe, Canada and the United States. The primary objective is to evaluate the time to first documented event of AF following cryptogenic stroke or TIA through six months’ continuous heart rhythm monitoring using the Medtronic Reveal XT insertable cardiac monitor (Continuous Monitoring arm) and Medtronic CareLink® Network, compared to standard of care optimal medical treatment (Control arm). Patients will be followed at one, six and 12 months, and every six months thereafter; results are expected in 2012.

“Detection of AF in cryptogenic stroke patients is of paramount importance with respect to the optimal medical therapy to reduce the risk for a stroke recurrence. Continuous monitoring with the Reveal XT is a new and very promising approach for this purpose,” said Prof. Dr. Med. J. Brachmann, a cardiologist at Klinikum Coburg in Coburg, Germany. The first enrollment in CRYSTAL AF recently took place at Klinikum Coburg under Prof. Brachmann.

About the Reveal XT Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Placed just under the skin of the chest area in a short outpatient procedure, the Reveal XT device provides up to three years of continuous heart rhythm monitoring. Reveal XT captures and stores an electrocardiogram (ECG) automatically, according to physician-programmed settings. Later, a physician analyzes the stored information which can be transmitted remotely via the Medtronic CareLink® Network, or viewed during an in-office patient visit. Clinical data available to the physician includes views of individually stored ECG episodes, or longer-term trended diagnostic data via Reveal XT’s Cardiac Compass® Report, including daily AF burden, patient activity, and average day and night heart rates.

About the SISTERS Trial, ITB Therapy and Spasticity Due to Stroke

SISTERS will involve approximately 88 patients at 20 centers in Europe and the United States. The study is a randomized, controlled, multi-center study to compare the effect of ITB Therapy on generalized, severe spasticity in post-stroke patients. The primary objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of ITB Therapy in reducing spasticity compared to best medical therapy in adult post-stroke patients. Other outcomes to be addressed in the study include function, quality of life and cost-effectiveness.

Spasticity is caused by damage or injury to the part of the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) that controls voluntary movement. This damage disrupts important signals between the nervous system and muscles, creating an imbalance that increases muscle activity or spasms. Spasticity can make movement, posture, and balance difficult. In severe cases, spasticity impacts daily activities, sleep patterns, and care giving. In studies, people have reported that ITB Therapy helped them be more independent, allowing them to feed or dress themselves, sit more comfortably, or transfer more easily. Caregivers also reported that care is easier with ITB Therapy.

ITB Therapy uses a surgically implanted programmable pump and catheter that delivers medication which helps relieve severe spasticity. This medication is a liquid form of baclofen that goes directly into the intrathecal space where cerebral spinal fluid flows around the spinal cord. By administering the medication directly into the spinal fluid, ITB Therapy decreases spasticity with fewer possible side effects than what is often seen with higher doses of oral medications.

1. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation 2009;119;e32-e181

2. European Stroke Organisation Web site. eso-stroke/faq_02.php?cid=8

3. Stroke: 1991; 22:983-988

4. Adams HP Jr, et al. Circulation 2007. May 22;115(20):e478-534. Erratum in Circulation 2007. Oct 30;116(18):e515

5. The European Stroke Organisation (ESO) Executive Committee and the ESO Writing Committee. Guidelines for Management of Ischaemic Stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack 2008. Cerebrovasc Dis. 2008;25(5):457-507


Efforts To Combat Malaria Taking Off

Nothing But Nets announced that the
campaign’s efforts to fight malaria by delivering long-lasting,
insecticide- treated nets (bed nets) to children and families throughout
Africa were highlighted at today’s White House Summit on Malaria hosted by
President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Since May 2006, the Nothing But Nets campaign has raised over $1.7
million with average donations of 62 dollars. Representatives from the
founding partners of the campaign, The National Basketball Association, the
People of the United Methodist Church and the United Nations Foundation
were all present at this historic event showcasing private and public
efforts to eradicate malaria.

“While bed nets are just one way to curb the spread of malaria, the
power of the campaign is that it is an easy thing for people to understand
and even easier for them to have an impact, ” said Kathy Behrens, Senior
Vice President for Community and Player Programs. “Send a net. Save a life.
It’s just that easy.”

Through NBA Cares, the NBA and WNBA, its teams and players have taken a
holistic approach to supporting the Nothing But Nets campaign — committing
to implementing grassroots events & activities; engaging in communication
and awareness efforts; helping generate funds; and participating in bed net
distributions. On January 23rd, 2007, NBA Legend Sam Perkins will be in
Lagos, Nigeria to participate in the distribution of bed nets with the
Measles Initiative through the World Health Organization.

The People of the United Methodist Church have been in mission across
Africa for more than 160 years. The denomination’s work in the area of
malaria prevention makes it a natural partner for Nothing but Nets. Several
global agencies of The United Methodist Church will launch supporting
campaigns to educate and raise money for bed nets.

“Ending malaria is going to take the power of millions of people,” said
Thomas Bickerton, a Bishop in The United Methodist Church in the USA.
“Working with all of the partners, we’re hoping to inspire the global
community to help us end this disease by providing bed nets to women and
children all across Africa.”

Nothing But Nets was created by the UN Foundation in May 2006. Inspired
by a column Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly, the campaign’s
founding partners are the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares, The
People of the United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated. Other
partners include AOL Black Voices, Malaria No More, Rotarians’ Action Group
on Malaria and VH- 1.

Bed net distributions are organized and implemented by the Measles
Initiative. Measles Initiative partners include the American Red Cross,
United Nations Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, World Health
Organization, and UNICEF.

In October 2006, representatives of the campaign traveled to Nigeria to
visit with families who had received the first shipment of more than
150,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets. The nets sent to Nigeria
were the first of many that will be shipped to Africa through Nothing But

While malaria has largely been eradicated in the United States, nearly
500 million people are still infected each year, mostly in Africa. More
than one million of those infected died from the disease. Seventy-five
percent of those deaths are children under five-years old. Every day 25
million pregnant women risk severe illness and harm to their unborn
children from a malaria infection.

The most cost-effective and simple approach to combat malaria is
through the use of insecticide- treated bed nets, which can prevent malaria
transmission by 50 percent. It costs $10 to buy and distribute a bed net
and to educate others on its use. Despite the effectiveness of preventing
transmission, according to the 2005 World Health Organization’s World
Malaria Report, only three percent of children under five in Africa sleep
under a bed net.

About Nothing But Nets

Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to save lives by
preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Inspired by
Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, thousands of people have joined
the campaign that was created by the UN Foundation. Founding campaign
partners include the National Basketball Association’s NBA Cares, The
People of the United Methodist Church, Malaria No More, and Sports
Illustrated. Other partners include VH-1, AOL Black Voices, and Rotarians’
Action Group on Malaria. It only costs $10 to provide an
insecticide-treated bed net that can prevent this deadly disease. Visit
NothingButNets to send a net and save a life.

Nothing But Nets

Multipathogenetic Origin Of A Pelvic Mass

UroToday – What can lie behind the quick onset on an alarming pelvic mass? In the related article, we present the extraordinary case of a 69-year-old woman, admitted in the emergency ward for abdominal pain and a bulky hypogastric mass, who was diagnosed with simultaneous diffuse bladder cancer, a voluminous bladder stone and bilateral hydroureteronephrosis.

This case represents a unique mixture of rare conditions with apparently unrelated pathogenesis, which is a diagnostic challenge. At first, the pelvic mass was thought to be consistent with urachal cyst or even urachal cancer, an uncommon malignancy with a location that often permits considerable local extension before it is discovered [1]. The possibility of a diverticulum, secondary to the bladder outlet obstruction that had favoured the huge bladder stone, was also considered [2].

At the end, however, the pelvic mass was due to an unsuspected, diffuse presentation of a transitional-cell carcinoma of the bladder, whose etiopathogenesis remains unclear. We thought of a possible relationship between the bladder cancer and the voluminous bladder stone; up-to-date, however, a definite connection between the development of bladder transitional-cell carcinoma and chronic urinary tract infections, inflammation or bladder stones remains to be established [3, 4, 5]. The mechanism of formation of the bladder stone is uncertain too, as neither bladder outlet obstruction nor detrusor hypocontractility were demonstrated in our patient in the videourodynamic study.

In conclusion, it is likely that several unrelated diseases independently contributed to the development of this unique pelvic mass.

Marco Oderda, MD and Paolo Gontero, MD as part of Beyond the Abstract on UroToday


1] Maletic V, Cerovic S, Lazic M, Stojanovic M, Stevanovic P. Synchronous and multiple transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder and urachal cyst. Int J Urol 2008; 15: 554-556.

2] Michelotti B, Tomaszewski JJ, Smaldone MC, Benoit RM. Bladder diverticulum arising adjacent to an ectopic ureter presenting as a cystic mass. Can J Urol 2008; 15(2):4024-6.

3] Michaud DS. Chronic inflammation and bladder cancer. Urol Oncol 2007; 25: 260-268.

4] Jhamb M, Lin J, Ballow R, Kamat AM, Grossman HB, Wu X. Urinary tract diseases and bladder cancer risk: a case-control study. Cancer causes & Control 2007. 18(8): 839-845.

5] Burin GJ, Gibb HJ, Hill RN. Human bladder cancer: evidence for a potential irritation-induced mechanism. Food Chem Toxicol. 1995;33(9):785-95.

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Embryonic Stem Cells And Cancer Stem Cells Linked By Module Map

A new study suggests that a genetic fingerprint associated with normal embryonic stem cells may be important for the development and function of cancer stem cells. The research, published by Cell Press in the April 10th issue of Cell Stem Cell, demonstrates that embryonic stem cells and multiple types of human cancer cells share a genetic expression pattern that is repressed in normal differentiated cells, a finding that may have significant clinical implications for cancer therapeutics.

“Self-renewal is a hallmark of stem cells and cancer, but existence of a shared stemness program remains controversial,” explains study co-author, Dr. Howard Y. Chang from Stanford University. Dr. Chang, Dr. Eran Segal from the Weizmann Institute in Israel and their colleagues constructed a gene module map to systematically relate transcriptional programs in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), adult tissue stem cells and human cancers.

The researchers identified two predominant gene modules that distinguish ESCs and adult tissue stem cells. “Importantly, the ESC-like transcriptional program was activated in diverse human epithelial cancers and strongly predicted metastasis and death,” says Dr. Segal. Conversely, the adult tissue stem gene module had an opposite pattern, activated in normal tissues relative to cancer and repressed in various human cancers when compared to normal tissues.

The researchers went on to demonstrate that c-Myc, but not other oncogenes, was sufficient to reactivate the ESC-like program in normal and cancer cells. In primary cells transformed by tumor-inducing genes Ras and I”B”, c-Myc increased the number of tumor-initiating cells that exhibited key properties associated with cancer stem cells and dramatically increased the frequency of tumor formation in mice.”

These findings suggest that activation of an ESC-like transcriptional program in differentiated adult cells may induce pathologic self-renewal characteristics of cancer stem cells. Further, the map of gene modules may prove to be a valuable tool for establishing improved standards for classifying and defining stem cells by using the expression signature modules as “fingerprints” rather than reliance on just a few molecular markers.


The researchers include David J. Wong, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Helen Liu, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Todd W. Ridky, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; David Cassarino, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Eran Segal, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel; and Howard Y. Chang, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

Source: Cathleen Genova

Cell Press