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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:33 am 
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Possible new approach to fighting chronic inflammatory diseases

Professor David Fairlie and his colleagues have developed an experimental treatment that has proven effective at reducing symptoms and stopping the progression of the disease in models of arthritis.

“Human enzymes called proteases stimulate the secretion of immune cells that, when the correct amount is released, play important roles in digestion, fighting infections and healing wounds,” Professor Fairlie said.

“But in chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, these enzymes continuously stimulate the release of immune cells, which cause inflammation when present at high levels. This leads to ongoing tissue damage.”

Professor Fairlie and his team have developed experimental compounds that block this stimulation and successfully reduce chronic inflammatory arthritis in experimental models.

If the treatment could be transferred to humans, it has the potential to reduce both the health and economic impacts of chronic inflammatory diseases.

Almost four million Australians suffer from chronic joint pain and disability caused by various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Related healthcare and loss of employment cost Australia over $20 billion per year, an amount that is expected to increase dramatically as our population ages.

These promising new findings are published in the current hard-copy edition of The Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology Journal, the world's most cited scientific journal in biology.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-a ... s.html#jCp


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:31 am 
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Are tumours fuelled by stem cells?

HOW can a cancer come back after it's apparently been eradicated? Three new studies are bolstering a long-debated idea: that tumours contain their own pool of stem cells that can multiply and keep fueling the cancer, seeding regrowth.

If that's true, scientists will need to find a way to kill those cells, apart from how they attack the rest of the tumour.

Stem cells in healthy tissues are known for their ability to produce any kind of cell. The new research deals with a different kind, cancer stem cells. Some researchers, but not all, believe they lurk as a persisting feature in tumours.

Over the past decade, studies have found evidence for them in tumours like breast and colon cancers. But this research has largely depended on transplanting human cancer cells into mice that don't have immune systems, an artificial environment that raises questions about the relevance of the results.

Now, three studies reported online in the journals Nature and Science present evidence for cancer stem cells within the original tumours. Again, the research relies on mice. That and other factors mean the new findings still won't convince everyone that cancer stem cells are key to finding more powerful treatments.

But researcher Luis Parada, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, believes his team is onto something. He says that for the type of brain tumour his team studied, "we've identified the true enemy."

If his finding applies to other cancers, he said, then even if chemotherapy drastically shrinks a tumour but doesn't affect its supply of cancer stem cells, "very little progress has actually been made."

The three studies used labeling techniques to trace the ancestry of cells within mouse tumours.

Collectively, they give "very strong support" to the cancer stem cell theory, said Jeffrey M. Rosen, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He did not participate in the work but supports the theory, which he said is widely accepted.

Another scientist who's skeptical about the theory, and said he has plenty of company, said the new papers did not change his mind.

Dr Parada's team worked with mice genetically primed to develop a certain type of brain tumour. The scientists genetically labeled particular cells in the tumour and then attacked the cancer with the same drug given to human patients. It kills growing tumour cells and temporarily stops the cancer's growth.

After treatment, when the tumour started growing again in the mice, the researchers showed that the vast majority, if not all, of its new cells had descended from the labeled cells. Apparently these were the tumour's cancer stem cells, they concluded.

Dr Parada said his team is now trying to isolate cancer stem cells from mouse brain cancers to study them and perhaps get some leads for developing therapies to eradicate them.

He also said that preliminary study of human brain tumours is producing results consistent with what his team found in the mice.

Dr Parada's study appears in Nature. In a second Nature report, British and Belgian researchers found evidence for cancer stem cells in early stage skin tumors in mice. And in the journal Science, a Dutch group found such evidence in mouse intestinal polyps, which are precursors to colon cancer.

Scott Kern of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is skeptical about whether tumours contain cancer stem cells. He said that since the new studies didn't involve human tumours, it's not clear how relevant they are to people.

The two European studies focused largely on lesions that can lead to tumours, he said. And as for Dr Parada's brain cancer study, he said he believed the results could be explained without relying on the cancer stem cell theory.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/techno ... 6440919389


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:27 am 
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Evidence Shows Cancer Regrowth Is Driven By Cancer Stem Cells

Scientists today have a better understanding of the genetics of cancer, but they’ve never been able to track how single cancerous cells form tumours in the body, or work out how tumours grow back seemingly from nowhere. New research, however, sheds some light on that problem — and it suggests that tumours are fuelled by cancer stem cells.

The research, which is in fact work from three independent studies, suggests that just a small subset of cells drives tumour growth. As a result, curing cancer once and for all may require those cells to be eliminated.

The work has focused on tumours of the brain, the gut and the skin, using genetic techniques to track stem cells in animal models. The researchers found that tumours seem to arise from single stem cells and their presence within a tumour is responsible for fuelling its growth. For a detailed analysis of the three studies and how their findings fit together, this Nature news article is well worth a read.

While in the past the theory of cancer stem cells has been a controversial one, these three studies provide some overwhelming evidence that support its accuracy. But while the basic idea of stem cells driving cancer might be correct, their modes of operation remain mysterious and no doubt extremely complex.

Despite the fact that this is cutting-edge science and has so far only been evidenced in three tumour types, it’s difficult to deny the potential impact the findings could have. The presence of cancer stem cells is probably responsible for the regrowth of tumours from nowhere — so if further studies confirm the existence of cancer stem cells in other types of the disease, it could represent a paradigm shift in treatment.

Instead of focusing on the tumour as a whole — doctors currently view controlling or reducing tumour size as a measure of success — the focus could shift instead to merely targeting the correct types of cancer stem cells. While such techniques remain some way off, it’s an incredibly exciting turning point in the future of cancer research.

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/08/evide ... tem-cells/


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:20 am 
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Gene 'may slow cancer growth'

SCIENTISTS have identified a gene that could be instrumental in the growth of prostate tumours.

The discovery could lead to improved cancer diagnosis and treatment, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh.

They looked at genes which control how the prostate gland is formed and found that one gene, called decorin, may have a key role in tumour growth.

Lead researcher Dr Axel Thomson, from the university's Medical Research Centre for Reproductive Health, said: "We pinpointed which genes were active in embryonic prostate development and compared their behaviour in the development of prostate cancer.

"Through this process we were excited to discover that the presence of one gene, decorin, was reduced in tumours compared to normal prostate cells.

"This observation suggests that decorin's normal role may be to slow cancer growth, which is a really exciting possibility.

"If our suspicions are verified then this could mean that, in the future, measurement of decorin levels could become a reliable diagnostic test for prostate cancer and also help determine how aggressive the disease is."

Dr Kate Holmes, head of research at charity Prostate Cancer UK which helped fund the research, said: "This type of early-stage research is vital to help us improve our understanding of prostate cancer development and move towards finding better ways to diagnose and treat the disease.

"Every year 10,000 men lose their lives to the disease, yet we still have very little knowledge of how prostate tumours develop and grow. It is vital that more research of this nature is undertaken and supported so that more clues, such as these, can be discovered."

The research is published in the scientific journal, PLoS ONE.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6442772773


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:38 am 
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Search for solutions for blood shortages

FACED with a critically injured patient refusing a blood transfusion, but bleeding profusely after a car accident, trauma surgeon Dr Sudhakar Rao needed a solution - fast.

The patient's heart and brain were starting to shut down as the blood loss starved his organs of much-needed oxygen.

The head of trauma at Royal Perth Hospital recalled a similar situation in Victoria in 2010, involving a 33-year-old woman who was given a lifesaving dose of a synthetic blood product following a horrific car crash.

Tamara Coakley was unable to accept a blood transfusion because of her religious beliefs, but Jehovah's Witnesses do allow some blood products and substitutes.

Dr Rao contacted The Alfred hospital in Melbourne, where the woman was treated, and requested a batch of a lifesaving synthetic oxygen-carrying blood product called Hemopure.

Further stocks of the product were immediately ordered from the United States and arrived at Royal Perth Hospital within 24 hours.

The male patient was treated with Hemopure, or HBOC-201, while physicians boosted his own blood-making capacity by priming his system with iron and other chemicals.

Hemopure contains oxygen-carrying haemoglobin extracted from the red blood cells of cows.

While it can be a lifesaver in critical situations for people who reject blood transfusions, the product is not licensed for use in Australia and is only available on a compassionate basis.

Physicians stress it is not the answer to blood shortages, which reached a critical low in Australia in June, but could play a role in remote locations in vast states such as Western Australia because of its long shelf life.

But careful monitoring of a patient's blood supply before surgery by boosting the body's ability to make more blood, and reducing the risk of blood loss during operations, could lessen demand on stretched blood supplies.

"With better planning, we can get the body to make more blood prior to surgery or after injury," Dr Rao told AAP.

"For elective surgery, that involves priming the system with iron and other chemicals."

While Dr Rao is keen to have Hemopure stocked at remote locations around Western Australia where it could be used in critical situations to keep people alive until they arrive at hospital, he is a keen advocate of managing patient's blood to minimise the need for transfusions.

This approach, enshrined in the state's health policy, is mirrored by similar policies in other Australian states including Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and NSW. Some individual hospitals also have their own patient blood management guidelines.

Australia leads the world in these blood conservation strategies.

It is the first country to develop evidence-based national guidelines for patient blood management, drafted by the National Blood Authority, with the UK and parts of the US looking to Australia to adopt similar models.

The same techniques that have been used for decades to treat Jehovah's Witnesses are now being advocated more widely to the general community as blood supplies become increasingly precious.

But as Queensland intensive care specialist Dr Anne-Marie Welsh recently pointed out, limiting blood transfusions can also be in the patient's best health interests.

In a chapter devoted to the critical care of Jehovah's Witness patients published in Australian Anaesthesia, Dr Welsh says the risk of infection is higher in patients who receive blood transfusions, as the transplant suppresses the immune system.

The ideal circumstances for managing a patient's blood without the need for a transfusion occur during elective surgery, she says.

This involves priming a patient's system with a good diet and nutritional supplements including vitamin C, iron, folic acid and the hormone erythropoietin, which improves blood cell count, one month before surgery.

Non-Jehovah's Witnesses can also donate their own blood several months before the operation for their own use, or their blood can be collected, washed, filtered and returned as needed during the procedure.

Treating patients without a transfusion for blood loss in an emergency is trickier.

Dr Welsh says sedating a patient and connecting them to a life support system can reduce their oxygen requirements until their haemoglobin levels rise, but vitamins and hormones are less effective in a limited timeframe.

Dr Welsh says patient blood management is best suited to elective surgery but can't be the only solution to ongoing blood shortages.

"We're always going to need blood," Dr Welsh tells AAP.

"Without it, lots of our patients would die.

"This is really suited to the elective situation, whereas the majority of the blood use is probably in the emergency situation, such as when someone comes in after a motor vehicle accident.

"I don't think it eliminates or solves the problem, I think it just could help to ease the problem if, in the elective situation, we were more careful and worked with our patients more thoroughly."

Dr Rao says oxygen-carriers such as Hemopure will not replace the need for blood either but it could be play an important role in meeting the challenges faced by physicians in Western Australia.

The product can be kept for up to three years without refrigeration.

Storing it at key sites around the state could help improve the survival of critically ill patients.

"Being in Perth, our patients come from all parts of the state and sometimes they take 12 to 14 hours to get here, 24 hours sometimes.

"If they were critically ill they wouldn't survive that trip.

"Our biggest push here is patient blood management to reduce the usage of blood.

"This (Hemopure) is just for the very, very occasional case where someone cannot have blood for many reasons and this should just be there for a backup.

"The best way forward is to manage our blood usage by preparing patients well. That is the actual solution, not expensive drugs like this which could have potential side effects."

http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/na ... z23AqaxMdF


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:10 am 
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Advance on breast cancer tumours

A NEW triple attack on breast cancer, combining radiotherapy with immune system enhancers, shows great promise.

In pre-clinical models, Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre researchers have eradicated 100 per cent of breast cancer tumours in mice by combining radiotherapy and immunotherapy.

This is the first time a pre-clinical breast cancer cure has used radiotherapy and two antibodies injected into the bloodstream. The antibodies work to both activate and suppress the immune system.

It is expected the new approach, which has been likened to a vaccine, will reduce the amount of radiotherapy needed, as well as providing protection from future cancers.

Dr Nicole Haynes, who co-wrote the research, said pre-clinical studies during the past five years had shown that radiotherapy killed the cancer cells it hit and could also provoke the immune system to hunt out remaining cancer cells that reawakened after remission.

Other studies have tweaked the immune system by injecting protein antibodies into the blood to either activate or shut down immune responses.

The study, led by Peter Mac's assistant director of cancer research Prof Ricky Johnstone, injected both types of antibodies into the immune system.

They "mopped up" cancer cells left after radiation.

"A lot of the time the immune system doesn't pick up tumour cells because they're seen as self-tissue, not as a foreign body," said Dr Haynes, a post-doctoral researcher in Peter Mac's Gene Regulation Laboratory.

"But radiotherapy can change tumour cells so they can be recognised by the immune system and liberate a lot of the proteins and antigens into the system that can stimulate the immune system as well.

"With this 'triple-attack' approach, not only is the primary breast tumour destroyed, but it provokes an immune response against cancer cells which have spread to secondary sites, reducing the threat of recurrence. It can potentially act like a type of vaccine to protect against future cancers."

The findings were published this week in the journal Cancer Research. Human clinical trials are expected to begin in two years.

Nola Chapman, 58, who has been battling breast cancer for nine years, said the potential benefits of the research were "mind-boggling".

"It's always a big question hanging in the back of your mind, whether the cancer is going to spread and come back somewhere else," she said.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victor ... 6448239757


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:21 am 
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Australian court to rule on landmark tobacco case

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's highest court will rule on the world's toughest anti-cigarette marketing laws on Wednesday in what has become a major test case for global tobacco companies in their fight against restrictions on the sale of their products.

Australia's laws will force tobacco companies to remove all branding from cigarette packets from this December, and allow tobacco to be sold only in plain olive-colored packages which carry graphic health warnings.

Tobacco giants British American Tobacco, Britain's Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco challenged the laws in Australia's High Court, claiming the rules were unconstitutional because they effectively extinguished their intellectual property rights.

"My prediction is that the government will win, in light of past precedent and how the arguments proceeded," intellectual property law expert Matthew Rimmer, from the Australian National University, told Reuters.

"Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and potentially Norway and India, will be looking to see if the threats of the tobacco industry are merely bluster, or if they have some force to them," he said.

A win for the government would be a blow to tobacco companies and would end any domestic challenges to plain packaging. All political parties in Australia support the plain packaging laws, passed by parliament in November, so there is little hope a future government would overturn the laws.

The plain packaging rules do, however, still face a number of challenges under global trade rules.

WTO CHALLENGES

Australia is already fighting trade complaints in the World Trade Organization (WTO) from three nations; Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, who claim the laws unfairly restrict trade, although their trade with Australia is negligible.

Tobacco companies have also signaled a potential challenge under a bilateral Australia-Hong Kong investment agreement.

Rimmer said tobacco companies could also use a proposed new Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to mount a further challenge if the TPP agreement includes controversial investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

Australia has strongly opposed lobbying by big business to include investor-state dispute settlement provisions in the TPP because that would undermine the ability of a government to pass domestic laws.

Rimmer said a surprise tobacco company win could force the government to either re-jig the laws so they comply with Australia's constitution, or to compensate tobacco companies for the loss of any trademark marketing rights.

He said the High Court challenge rested on tobacco company claims that the government has effectively taken their intellectual property and trademarks without paying compensation.

The case hinges on rights under the Australian constitution that say the government acquisition of property must be on just terms.

But the government argued it has not acquired any property, leaving the tobacco companies in ownership of the trademarks, and that the laws were needed to protect public health.

The plain packaging laws have been championed by Australia's Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, who was previously health minister and whose father was a smoker who died of oesophageal cancer when she was 10.

Australia wants to cut the number of smokers from around 15 percent of the population to 10 percent by 2018. Authorities say smoking kills around 15,000 Australians a year.

The World Health Organisation estimates more than 1 billion people around the world are regular smokers, with 80 percent in low and middle income countries.

Industry analysts are worried plain packaging laws could spread to emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and Indonesia and threaten sales growth.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns- ... 1890.story


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:44 am 
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Colleagues with cancer on the rise, Cancer Council warns

AUSTRALIAN workplaces should prepare for a spike in the number of staff who get cancer, the Cancer Council warns.

More than 40 per cent of cancer cases occur in people of working age (18-65) and about 7.7 million sick days will be lost to prostate and breast cancer in NSW alone over the next 10 years.

Cancer Council NSW director of information Gillian Batt said Australians often think of cancer as being a “disease of the old people”.

“But we are picking up prostate and breast cancer much earlier, we are actually identifying it while people are still working,” Ms Batt said.

Ms Batt said employers should take the mindset that cancer is just another disease.

"Survival rates are very, very good, it’s actually a case of helping someone go through their treatment,” she said.

Ms Batt added that often people work throughout their treatments.

“Chemotherapy doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go to work,” she said.

And of those that take time off, most people are able to go back to work in a similar role that they had before.

Bosses should talk about the impact on working hours and be open to flexibility, Ms Batt said.

“It’s about reassuring someone that we can work through this, we can look at how to rearrange your role,” she said.

Ms Batt added that some people will want to keep the fact that they have cancer away from their colleagues, while others will be more open.

“And then you have to talk to their colleagues who will also be affected,” she said.

“It’s not rocket science but actually people are very, very scared of talking about it.”

The most recent Cancer Council figures show that in NSW in 2007, breast cancer prevalence among females aged 18-65 sat at 26,786, while the number of 18 to 65-year-old men with prostate cancer sat at 10,735.

Bosses and employees wanting more information about how to manage cancer in the workplace can go to cancercouncil.com.au/workplaces, or call the Cancer Council Helpline in 13 11 20.

http://www.news.com.au/business/worklif ... 6451118349


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:38 am 
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Appeal to WTO may yet deliver Big Tobacco victory

"WE have taken on big tobacco and we have won," a jubilant Attorney-General Nicola Roxon declared on Wednesday when she spoke to the media after the High Court ruled plain packaging of cigarettes did not violate the Constitution.

Her glee was understandable - Roxon introduced the laws for plain packaging as health minister - but in the excitement of the moment her rhetoric became hyperbole. The government has won an significant battle against the tobacco companies but it has not yet won the plain packaging war. Two more clashes must be fought and won before it can claim victory, and these battles will be waged on very different terrain.

Two international actions brought under global trade treaties could still stop plain packaging.

"There's still a long way to go," Philip Morris Australia spokesman Chris Argent tells Inquirer.

Argent's company has brought one of the international actions. Hong Kong-based Philip Morris Asia - the parent company of Philip Morris Australia, manufacturer of Marlboro, Longbeach and Peter Jackson - has moved under the 1993 Australia-Hong Kong bilateral investment treaty.

Philip Morris argues that plain packaging breaches the intellectual property protections in the investment treaty and substantially deprives the company of the real value of its investments in Australia by turning its products from branded into commoditised items.

Legal proceedings under the 2010 Arbitration Rules of the UN Commission on International Trade Law are in train. The arbitration process is in an early stage and could take as long as three years to resolve.

Philip Morris is seeking compensation that Argent warns could cost taxpayers billions of dollars if its case is upheld.

"Despite the fact that plain packaging does not reduce smoking it does devalue our investment by confiscating our brands," a bullish Argent says, "and therefore compensation will be due."

Mark Davidson, a professor of law at Monash University and a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Tobacco Plain Packaging, begs to differ. "PMA will struggle to show that there has been any expropriation within the meaning of the BIT," he says.

The matter and the second action are both exercising government minds.

In that, three nations - tobacco producers Honduras and the Dominican Republic, along with Ukraine - have launched a challenge to the plain packaging laws in the World Trade Organisation, claiming they violate international intellectual property laws.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has established a special taskforce to handle the WTO action, along with the BIT case. The matter is generating international interest due to its significance for the interpretation of the 1995 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Roxon said this week she believed the government was on strong ground legally that had been strengthened by the High Court ruling. "We don't have the reasons for judgment but we know that the question at issue was whether this was an acquisition of property. That has been rejected and that really is central to any of the trade arguments that are going to be put in other forums."

Others are not so sure.

Kyla Tienhaara, of the Regulatory Institutions Network, believes there are no guarantees it will win the international cases.

"Tobacco companies like Philip Morris have indicated they believe the (High Court) decision will have no bearing on the cases pending in the World Trade Organisation or on challenges under the Hong Kong-Australia bilateral trade agreement," she says.

"While this statement underestimates the extent of deference by domestic courts to international tribunals, it is true that the High Court decision doesn't preclude cases of investor-state disputes at the international level proceeding, or guarantee the government will prevail in them."

Tienhaara says the BIT dispute is particularly concerning for supporters of plain packaging.

"Unlike the WTO, there's no exception under the treaty for public health measures. And unlike in the Australian Constitution, 'expropriation' - the act of a government taking private property - is defined very broadly."

There are even doubts about the WTO public health measure exception clauses, doubts that explain Argent's "plain packaging does not reduce smoking" line.

Increasing attention is being paid to a June brief on the global tobacco industry prepared by a boutique European financial services firm, the Berenberg Bank.

This paper successfully forecast that tobacco companies would lose their High Court challenge to plain packaging - but goes on to say it believes the WTO action will succeed.

The Berenberg analysts note international intellectual property treaties "support trademark protection, regardless of the nature of the product". They also warn the government has not provided the scientific evidence to justify the effectiveness of plain packaging as an anti-smoking measure needed to trigger the public health exemption clauses.

"The relevant public health exemption which allows members to void trademark rights to protect public health requires evidence that the suppression of trademarks is necessary - based on scientific evidence - and the only way to protect public health," they write.

The budget papers show little evidence of a drop in revenue from tobacco taxation across the forward estimates, indicating smoking rates will not dramatically decline under plain packaging.

Quizzed on the matter on Sky News's Australian Agenda recently, Roxon was cautious. "We've been very clear that we haven't made any estimates about the level of reduction that will flow from plain packaging," she said.

Her successor as health minister, Tanya Plibersek, has been even more circumspect.

She told the program: "You have to ask the Treasury about those calculations."

The Berenberg analysts believe the WTO will rule against the government on plain packaging.

They also believe the government will be unlikely to flout any WTO judgment despite its rhetoric, saying this could open the country to "a real threat" of "punitive sanctions across its entire range of trade".

The government has declined to comment on the paper, but Australian governments have bowed to the WTO before. Plain packaging may yet be doomed.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa ... 6452794144


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:37 am 
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BRAIN POWER: The Australian wheelchair you can move with your thoughts

AUSTRALIAN scientists have invented a wheelchair that people can drive with their thoughts.

The wheelchair can also navigate itself through crowds for a limited time using its own robotic brain.

One day it could even have personality, says chief researcher and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and IT at UTS, Professor Hung Nguyen, says.

The technology could conceivably open up a whole new frontier of thought-control based technology, Prof. Nguyen says.

Cars and household entertainment systems could conceivably be operated with the power of thought in the future.

"We've started with the wheelchair because there's a definite need for it," says Prof. Nguyen, who has worked in the field for almost two decades.

Prof. Nguyen's son, Jordan, 27, nearly paralysed himself after an injury from diving into a pool in 2005.

"I was lucky I didn't break my neck," Jordan, who conducted research for the thought-controlled wheelchair for his PhD studies, says. "There's only just a few technologies to control a wheelchair if you're disabled from the neck down."

The father and son have worked together to turn the wheelchair into a reality since.

The wheelchair has successfully passed through one set of clinical trials. It could be commercially available in anywhere between one to five years depending upon funding, Prof. Nguyen said.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

•Technology placed around patient's neck that picks up brainwaves
•Certain thoughts can be allocated to mean "left" or "right"
•Machine picks up thoughts
•Operator closes eyes for short period of time to confirm
•Wheelchair moves

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/technolog ... 6454401257


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:56 am 
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Australia starts melanoma genome project

SYDNEY, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have started to undertake a two-year melanoma genome project that aims to identify the common gene mutations that lead to melanoma, Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) announced Friday.

The project, developed and coordinated by MIA, will cost 5.5 million AU dollars (5.74 million U.S. dollars) and has been largely funded by private donors.

A national coalition of researchers from MIA, The University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research will work together on the project.

Most of the melanoma tumor samples to be used are from the MIA BioSpecimen Bank of melanoma tissues, MIA said.

MIA Executive Director John Thompson said the medical research would lead to better treatments for melanoma patients.

"The Melanoma Genome Project will build on Australia's international leadership in this area and move the world's medical knowledge closer to being able to prevent and cure melanoma," Thompson said.

"It will lead to better diagnostic tests and new drugs which can specifically target the mutations that are causing this particular cancer."

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/healt ... 805413.htm


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:47 am 
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PM opens new Sydney cancer centre

AUSTRALIA'S new cancer research and treatment centre in Sydney will have new ways of seeing the disease which researchers hope will help them find a cure.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard formally opened The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, on the campus of Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, on Tuesday.

The multimillion-dollar, 11-storey building is said to be the first of its type in Australia and will host cancer doctors and scientists, tailoring treatments for individual patients by examining their disease at a molecular level.

"This does amount to a new way of seeing - and with that new way of seeing will come new precise ways of diagnosing, preventing, treating and maybe curing cancer," Bill Ferris, chairman of Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research said.

The Garvan Institute and St Vincent's Hospital will both run the Kinghorn Centre.

Ms Gillard said the new facility had the potential to work 'miracles', but warned it would take time.

The federal government has invested $70 million in the centre, with another $40 million raised through private donations and fundraising.

"The things we can't cure and treat today, we will be able to cure and treat in the future," Ms Gillard added.

She also announced Australia's third national prostate cancer research centre would be built near the Kinghorn Centre in the future.

"There will be less suffering and grief because of the work that will be done in this new institute, just like the Kinghorn Centre," she said.

Songstress Delta Goodrem, herself a former cancer patient, sang two songs at the opening.

Sydney archbishop Cardinal George Pell blessed the building with holy water and even gave journalists and photographers a special sprinkle.

"You could probably do with a blessing," Cardinal Pell quipped.

http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/na ... z24sb67sZ9


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:27 am 
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Death of the gym workouts? 'Hulk' protein discovered by scientists that could be behind huge muscle growth

If you hate the idea of working out in a gym to look toned and muscle-bound, then this could be the news you have been waiting for.

Scientists in Australia believe they have found one of the molecular keys to a protein that promotes weight and muscle mass gain - without any exercise involved.

Researchers have found that by blocking the function of Grb10 - nicknamed the 'Hulk' protein - while mice were in the womb, they were considerably stronger and more muscular at birth than normal mice.

The study, published in the September issue of the respected FASEB Journal, has important implications for a wide range of conditions such as muscular dystrophy, Type 2 diabetes, and problems produced by muscle inflammation.

Grb10 seems to have a significant role in promoting muscle growth without any change in activity, diet, or adverse health effects, according to researchers.

'By identifying a novel mechanism regulating muscle development, our work has revealed potential new strategies to increase muscle mass,' said Lowenna J. Holt from the Diabetes and Obesity Research Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

Holt and her colleagues compared two groups of mice. One with the Grb10 gene and the other where it was blocked.

Researchers examined the properties of the muscles in both adult and newborn mice and discovered that the increase caused by the loss of Grb10 had mainly occurred during prenatal development.

These results suggested that it may in future be possible to alter muscle growth and help faster healing, as the processes involved in muscle regeneration and repair are similar to those for the initial formation of muscle.

But Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, warned: 'Don't turn in your gym membership just yet.

'If you want big muscles, the classic prescription still applies: lift heavy things, eat and sleep right, and have your hormones checked.

'But this study shows that when we understand the basic science of how muscle fibres grow and multiply, we will be able to lift the burden - literally - of muscle disease for many of our patients.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... z25FQfnEVl


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:26 am 
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Experts demand health focus for food plan

Health experts say Labor's draft national food plan is flawed because it prioritises the demands of big business over the nutritional needs of the public.

The federal government released a food plan green paper in mid-July.

It aims to ensure Australia "has a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply supporting access to nutritious and affordable food".

But only one of the draft plan's seven objectives focuses on healthy eating.

The others deal with boosting industry competitiveness and productivity, increasing access to overseas markets and protecting farming land.

"The national food plan is disappointing to us because it seems to put the profitability of the food industry before the nutrition of the nation," Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Prof Olver said Australia was facing an unprecedented level of obesity, which meant children would soon have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

"Yet there are no recommendations (in the draft) to do anything about it," he said.

"There are just soft options like guidelines and monitoring.

"We need to underpin the food plan with nutrition."

Heart Foundation spokesman Rob Grenfell argued the plan needed to focus on ensuring fresh fuit and vegetables were affordable and readily available.

Processed foods should be modified to reduce fats and salt.

Dr Grenfell said there had to be a holistic approach to the green paper.

"If we separate different components nothing will change," he said.

"Food needs to be taken as a whole - how it interrelates with agriculture, business marketing, the export sector, transport, community development and health."

Public Health Association nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said if the government wanted to support farmers it should encourage food with more "real ingredients" as opposed to cheap additives.

The three experts met with others in Canberra on Thursday to discuss how health groups will formally respond to the draft plan.

They hope to meet with the agriculture, health and other relevant ministers over the next few weeks.

The public can comment on the green paper until the end of September.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/852 ... -food-plan


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:26 am 
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Exposure to chest radiation ups breast cancer risk

Exposure to radiation is an established risk factor for breast cancer in the general population.

Some studies have suggested that women with a mutated BRCA1/2 gene may have increased radiation sensitivity because BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the genes involved in the repair of DNA breaks, which can be caused by radiation.

The benefit from mammographic screening in young BRCA1/2 mutation carriers may therefore not outweigh the radiation risk. Some countries have even gone as far as recommending that women avoid mammographic screening before the age of 30 but results of studies have been inconsistent.

Researchers from the Netherlands Cancer Institute therefore looked at 1993 female BRCA1/2 mutation carriers in the Netherlands, France and the UK between 2006 and 2009 to see whether variations in DNA increase the chances of radiation-induced breast cancer risk. Follow-up ended with diagnosis of first breast cancer. All patients were aged 18 or over.

Women were questioned on exposure via x-ray or mammogram, age at first exposure, number of exposures before age 20, at ages 20-29, 30-39 and age at last exposure.

Results showed that 43 per cent of the 1993 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. 48 per cent reported ever having an x-ray and 33 per cent a mammogram.

The average age at first mammogram was 29 years. A history of any exposure to diagnostic or screening radiation to the chest at ages 20 to 29 increased breast cancer risk by 43 per cent and any exposure before the age of 20 increased breast cancer risk by 62 percent. No association with breast cancer was apparent for exposures at ages 30-39.

For every 100 BRCA1/2 mutation carriers aged 30, nine will have developed breast cancer by the age of 40 and the number of cases would increase by five if all had had one mammogram before age 30.

However, the researchers say this estimate "should be interpreted with caution because there were few women with breast cancer who had had a mammogram before age 30 in the study".

They concluded that "exposure to diagnostic radiation before age 30 was associated with an increased breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers".

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes ... ers-breast


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