"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Good News for Fruit, Bad for Babies 

A large study of Medicaid beneficiaries suggests that use of ACE inhibitors in the first trimester may be linked to birth defects, a fairly big deal considering generally increasing rates of high blood pressure in the US population at large, and also that many women do develop high BP during pregnancy. What other effects do these drugs have, even post natally, one wonders?

And Ketek is in more trouble: an FDA official has called for a halt in a trial of the antibiotic for ear infections in children, since these infections usually are not severe, and the drug is linked to so many serious side effects. The FDA will consider this idea, which seems like a total no-brainer. Ketek was approved in 2004 under very dubious circumstances, and one can only suspect that there is a very strong political influence pushing its continued use.

Drinking a glass of orange or grapefruit juice every morning may help prevent osteoporosis, according to a Texas study. The study was small, including only 36 rats, but seems to have been well executed, and follow-ups are in the works. I'll be very interested to see how this comes out.

Another fruit getting a boost today is gardenia, used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the symptoms of diabetes. Genipin, a component of gardenia extract, stimulates insulin secretion from pancreatic cells, via uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), lighting the way for many potential new treatments for the disease. Cool! Another line of research suggests the protein GCN5 as another potential target against diabetes.

In further good disease-fighting news, US researchers may be near to finding a new and potentially more effective HIV treatment. The compound, PA-457, seems to interfere with the virus' capsid protein formation, leaving its RNA exposed to immune system attacks. Which could be really fantastic, if it works.

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