HEALTH

Aspirin may prevent progression of mesothelioma, research finds

BY Michael Johnsen

HONOLULU — Aspirin may inhibit the growth of mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos-related cancer, University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers reported Monday.
 
The study published in Cell Death and Disease showed that aspirin slows down the growth of mesothelioma by blocking the carcinogenic effects of the inflammatory molecule, High-Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1). Researchers believe the molecule directly promotes mesothelioma growth.
 
"HMGB1 is an inflammatory molecule that plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of malignant mesothelioma," stated Haining Yang, associate professor in the Thoracic Oncology Program at the UH Cancer Center. "Inhibiting HMGB1 dramatically reduced malignant mesothelioma growth in mice and significantly improved survival of treated animals." 
 
Aspirin is mostly used as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which is absorbed by the stomach and upper intestine. Working with collaborators, Yang and Michele Carbone, director of the UH Cancer Center's Thoracic Oncology Program, found that at least some of the so far unknown anti-tumor activity of aspirin is through preventing HMBG1 activity.
 
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive and often deadly cancer that can result from exposure to asbestos and asbestos-like fibers such as erionite. The prolonged presence of asbestos fibers lodged in the organ lining initiates a vicious cycle of chronic cell death and chronic inflammation that, over a period of many years, can lead to mesothelioma.
 
The researchers theorized that people at high risk of developing mesothelioma could take aspirin as a way to prevent or delay the growth of the cancer, and thus increase their chances of survival. Such individuals would include people occupationally exposed to asbestos, or people who live in areas high in naturally occurring asbestos-like fibers. They also encourage future studies to uncover the precise mechanism by which aspirin blocks HMGB1.
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Protein Sciences out of the gate early with approved Flublok vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

MERIDEN, Conn. – Protein Sciences announced Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the composition of Flublok influenza vaccine for the 2015/16 flu season.  
 
"We are extremely pleased with the early approval of the 2015/16 Flublok formulation," said Manon Cox, president and CEO of Protein Sciences. "We expect Flublok to be available in Target pharmacies and other retail chains before most other vaccines this year. Flublok is approved for use in everyone 18 years and older."
 
This year, there are two strain changes, the company noted. The new vaccine formulation will be available to distributors and retailers in mid-August.  
 
A recent clinical study of the quadrivalent version of Flublok in approximately 9,000 adults 50 years and older showed that Flublok recipients were 31% less likely to develop laboratory confirmed influenza than the people that received a traditional egg-based quadrivalent vaccine, the company noted.
 
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National Verruca Foundation offers 5 ways to avoid warts this summer

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — The National Verruca Foundation on Wednesday designated July as Wart Awareness Month in order to raise awareness of warts as summer begins. This month-long observance provides individuals, doctors and community-based organizations an opportunity to address ways to prevent the millions of cases of non-genital warts that appear each year in the United States.
 
Warts can be more than a nuisance; they are highly contagious, embarrassing and can be painful when they appear on pressure points of the body such as the bottom of the feet or on the hands. Plantar (foot) warts affect about 4.5% of the population.
 
Children are at the highest risk of getting non-genital warts with as many as 22% of children contracting them sometime during their childhood. People with weakened or less-mature immune systems are more prone to warts. There is no vaccine for non-genital warts but avoiding them is possible for many people.
 
“With education, many people can avoid the potential pain and embarrassment of warts,” said dermatologist Alan Lasser, executive director of the NVF. “We’re pleased to help increase awareness throughout July, before the peak season begins.”
 
The virus that causes warts is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is easily transmitted between people and from some objects. The following tips may help you stay wart free:
 
  • Wash hands well and often;Don’t share towels. The wart virus can be transmitted by objects;
  • Wear flip flops or other shoes around public locker rooms, showers and pool decks;
  • Keep skin healthy and free of cuts. Scratches and cuts can make any area of the skin more vulnerable to the wart virus;
  • Cover cuts and scrapes; and
  • Avoid biting nails or picking at hang-nails.
 
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