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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round up of R&D news in brief

Gene therapy could be the key

Gene therapy based on starving tumours of blood supply could become a promising strategy for treating pancreatic cancer, according to Chinese scientists. In a report in the journal Gut, Dr Yao-Zong Yuan, of Shanghai Second Medical School, said that although more research was needed ìgene therapy may be a potent strategy to treat many malignant tumours, including pancreatic cancerî. After test tube experiments, the study found that gene therapy suppressed the formation of new blood vessels, cutting off the nutrient supply needed to grow and spread in the body, although it had little direct effect on the cancerous cells.

Aspirin could be life-saver

Aspirin could be instrumental in cutting death rates in post-menopausal women with heart disease, according to a long-term observational study in the US. Lead author of the study, Dr Jeffrey Berger said women with cardiovascular disease ìshould be on aspirinî unless there is some medical reason why they cannot tolerate it. The research, presented at the American Heart Association scientific sessions, included 8,928 women with heart disease between the ages of 50 and 79, 46 per cent of whom were taking aspirin. During six and a half years of follow-up observation, the women taking aspirin had a 17 per cent reduction in death from all causes and a 25 per cent lower death rate from heart disease.

Statin effect worsened by genes

US researchers say they may have found the answer as to why cholesterol-lowering statin drugs do not seem to work as well in black people. A study reported at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas found that two variations in a gene involved in the body's own production of cholesterol appeared to make statins work less effectively. A team led by Dr Ronald Krauss, director of atherosclerosis research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California, tested the DNA of 296 black American and 573 whites, all of them typical high cholesterol patients.

30th September 2008

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