Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

NIH establishes National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

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[From From the 23rd December 2011 National Institutes of Health (NIH) press release

In a move to re-engineer the process of translating scientific discoveries into new drugs, diagnostics, and devices, the National Institutes of Health has established the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The action was made possible by Congress’ approval of a fiscal year 2012 spending bill  and the president’s signing of the bill, which includes the establishment of NCATS with a budget of $575 million.

NCATS will serve as the nation’s hub for catalyzing innovations in translational science. Working closely with partners in the regulatory, academic, nonprofit, and private sectors, NCATS will strive to identify and overcome hurdles that slow the development of effective treatments and cures.

“Congressional support for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences marks a major milestone in mobilizing the community effort required to revolutionize the science of translation,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.  “Patients suffering from debilitating and life threatening diseases do not have the luxury to wait the 13 years it currently takes to translate new scientific discoveries into treatments that could save or improve the quality of their lives.  The entire community must work together to forge a new paradigm, and NCATS aims to catalyze this effort.”

A prime example of the type of innovative projects that will be led by NCATS is the new initiative between NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  to develop cutting-edge chip technology.  This new technology will allow researchers to screen for safe and effective drugs far more swiftly and efficiently than current methods. A great deal of time and money can be saved testing drug safety and effectiveness much earlier in the process.

To meet the goals of NCATS, NIH is reorganizing a wide range of preclinical and clinical translational science capabilities within NIH into an integrated scientific enterprise with new leadership and a bold new agenda.  While the effort to recruit an NCATS director continues, organizational changes and realignment of resources will move forward under the leadership of Acting Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D., and Acting Deputy Director Kathy Hudson, Ph.D.  Dr. Insel is the director of the National Institutes of Mental Health and Dr. Hudson is the deputy director for science, outreach, and policy at the National Institutes of Health.

The following programs will comprise NCATS:

  • Bridging Interventional Development Gaps, which makes available critical resources needed for the development of new therapeutic agents
  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which fund a national consortium of medical research institutions working together to improve the way clinical and translational research is conducted nationwide
  • Cures Acceleration Network, which enables NCATS to fund research in new and innovative ways
  • FDA-NIH Regulatory Science, which is an interagency partnership that aims to accelerate the development and use of better tools, standards and approaches for developing and evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic products
  • Office of Rare Diseases Research, which coordinates and supports rare diseases research
  • Components of the Molecular Libraries, which is an initiative that provides researchers with access to the large-scale screening capacity necessary to identify compounds that can be used as chemical probes to validate new therapeutic targets
  • Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, which is a program to encourage and speed the development of new drugs for rare and neglected diseases

The budget for NCATS is primarily a reallocation of funds from programs previously located in the NIH Office of the Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, and National Center for Research Resources.  NIH is committed to both basic and applied research and has maintained a relatively stable ratio of funding across these two areas of focus. The funding ratio will not be disturbed by the establishment of this new center.

The formation of NCATS has been a methodical process highlighted by the recommendation of the NIH Scientific Management Review Board in December 2010 to create a new center dedicated to advancing translational science.  This recommendation was followed by a year of intensive feedback and expert insight from all sectors of translational science through advisory meetings and extensive public consultation.

“I am deeply grateful for the expertise and insight provided by the many researchers, industry executives, patients, voluntary organizations, and NIH staff that helped NIH evaluate NCATS’ purpose and crystallize its vision,” said Dr. Collins.

To learn more about the impetus and development of NCATS, go to:

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visitwww.nih.gov.

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drugs Used To Overcome Cancer May Also Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance

Image by Ethan Hein via Flickr Antibiotic Resistance

Drugs Used To Overcome Cancer May Also Combat Antibiotic Resistance

From the Fri Dec 23, 2011 Medical News Today article

Drugs used to overcome cancer may also combat antibiotic resistance, finds a new study led by Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. “Our study found that certain proteins, called kinases, that confer antibiotic resistance are structurally related to proteins important in cancer,” says Wright about the study published in Chemistry & Biology…

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Kent Bottles Private Views: Health Hackers & Citizen Scientists Shake Up Medical Research

English: Copy of Figure 1 describing the healt...

Click on figure to enlarge

Copy of Figure 1 describing the health care model of Health 2.0
Emerging Patient-Driven Health Care Models: An Examination of Health Social Networks, Consumer Personalized Medicine and Quantified Self-Tracking, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 492-525; doi:10.3390/ijerph6020492Author – Swan M

Kent Bottles Private Views: Health Hackers & Citizen Scientists Shake Up Medical Research

From the 5 December 2011 blog item by Dr. Bottles

Whether you call it Health 2.0, Medicine 2.0, or e-Health 2.0, the Internet is changing medicine in ways that challenge the status quo. This article explores how a group of amateurs who call themselves “health hackers” and “citizen scientists” are trying to use the Internet to connect with other patients, run experiments, and conduct clinical trials on their own diseases.

Dr. Gunther Eysenbach states “Medicine 2.0 applications, services and tools are Web-based services for health care consumers, caregivers, patients, health professionals, and biomedical researchers, that use Web 2.0 technologies as well as semantic web and virtual reality tools, to enable and facilitate specifically social networking, participation, apomediation, collaboration, and openness within and between these user groups.” One review examined 46 different definitions of Health 2.0, and Eysenbach’s definition does not emphasize a key component of the concept:amateurs can use these new Internet tools to do work that in the past was only done by professionals. (1)

 …

The tension between the traditional approach to medical research and patient-initiated research can only be resolved by cooperation and two-way communication between the two groups. The Mayo Clinic and PXE examples clearly show that both groups can benefit by meaningful and respectful partnership. The AIDS and ALS examples demonstrate that patients with few options and new Internet tools will continue to push the traditional research community to be open to new ideas, new approaches, and new possibilities. Gilles Frydman, founder of the Association of Cancer Online Resources, has stated, “Better-informed people are more willing to participate in the advancement of science. Those patients taking Gleevec do not consider themselves guinea pigs. They are recipients of experimental medicine.” (8)

Read the entire blog item

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ecocide Act–the next step toward international environmental protection? « Public Health Perspectives

 

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

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Ecocide Act–the next step toward international environmental protection? « Public Health Perspectives

From the blog item by Allison Marron

I recently came across another WordPress blog which covered the concept of ecocide, a movement that would make environmental destruction a crime recognized  at the international level. Although I’m unsure of how this would be enforced, how well this could be enforced,  or how much of a priority this would be to counties compared to other international crimes (such as genocide), I think it’s an incredibly interesting and worthy concept for environmental health. Perhaps this is something that could be successful with a grassroots effort (one example being the grassroots campaign Eradicating Ecocide), or legislation starting at the state and country level before it gains support at the international level. Read the original WordPress blog post here.

 

Related resources

December 24, 2011 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

10 (Research-Tested) New Year’s Resolutions, Culled from the Work of UB Faculty

 

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard

New Years Resolution postcard

10 (Research-Tested) New Year’s Resolutions, Culled from the Work of UB Faculty

From the 19 December 2011 news release

10 (Research-Tested) New Year’s Resolutions, Culled from the Work of UB Faculty

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Need help choosing a New Year’s resolution? Below, the University at Buffalo offers its annual list of 10 suggestions for achieving health, happiness and success in the new year.

Each resolution is based on the work of UB faculty in 2011. Their research and expertise provides some direction on steps to take toward self-improvement and wellbeing in 2012.

Have a happy, healthy and successful new year.

1. Make returning war veterans feel at home. Simple home modifications — like installing exterior lighting or widening doorways — can enhance the comfort and security of returning soldiers, especially if they suffer from vision loss or post-traumatic stress or use a wheelchair, says Danise Levine, director of UB’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access. Levine helped design two homes for veterans and their families through the Wounded Warrior Home Project.

http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13028

2. Floss every day to protect against pneumonia and heart disease. Good oral hygiene may help prevent pneumonia and heart disease, according to two UB researchers. A study done by UB professor of medicine, Ali A. El Solh, MD, indicates that periodontal microbes are a possible reservoir for recurrent lower respiratory tract infections in nursing home residents. And research done by UB Distinguished Professor and Vice Provost Robert J. Genco, DDS, shows a strong association between periodontal microbes and non-fatal heart attacks.

http://ubfacultyexperts.buffalo.edu/floss-to-protect-against-pneumonia-and-heart-disease

Read the entire list

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

   

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