HEALTH

CDC refutes reports that influenza vaccine poses risk of developing H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday played down recent media reports describing unpublished findings from seasonal influenza vaccine studies conducted in Canada.

The findings from these studies suggest that receiving the 2008-09 seasonal influenza vaccine (which is the vaccine offered last influenza season) was a risk factor for developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus. In the studies done in Canada, the increase in risk among persons vaccinated with a seasonal influenza vaccine was approximately double the risk for those who were not vaccinated with seasonal influenza vaccine.

“However, the research findings from Canada have not been published in the medical literature or presented at any public scientific meetings. There has not yet been an opportunity to fully review the studies in detail,” CDC stated.

“Preliminary results of studies conducted in the United States using methods similar to the Canadian studies did not indicate that receiving a seasonal influenza vaccine increased the risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus,” the agency added. “No other country has reported that seasonal influenza vaccine increases the risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.”

One one study has been published on this issue — an Australian study that did not find any association between receipt of seasonal influenza vaccine and risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

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Ulcerative colitis treatment reduces need for surgery by almost half, study suggests

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A new study led by Mayo Clinic researchers found that ulcerative colitis patients had a 41% reduction in colectomy when treated with infliximab for one year, according to a study published in the October 2009 issue of Gastroenterology.

Ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the colon, is characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea. Like Crohn’s disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and often lead to colectomy, or surgical removal of the colon.

In the study, 728 patients received placebo or infliximab (5 or 10 mg/kg) for 46 weeks and were monitored for hospitalization or surgical outcomes. Eighty-seven percent had complete follow-up for the endpoint of whether or not they had colectomy, while the remaining 13% of patients had follow-up for less then a year, with a median follow-up of 6.2 months in these patients. The research showed that treatment with infliximab at zero, two, six and then every 8 weeks, reduced the incidence of colectomy through 54 weeks by 41% in outpatients with moderately-to-severe active ulcerative colitis.

Infliximab is an artificial antibody that works by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha, a chemical messenger and a key part of the immune reaction. Infliximab blocks the action of TNF alpha by preventing it from binding to its receptor in the cell.

“Our purpose in this study was to see if the use of infliximab for ulcerative colitis would reduce the need for surgery,” said William Sandborn, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and lead author of the study. “We found that treatment with infliximab reduced the need for colectomy by 41% compared to patients treated with placebo.”

Previous research has shown that infliximab therapy induced clinical remission and bowel healing for colitis patients. This new research provides more information and options for patients struggling with this difficult disease, explained Sandborn.

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New report projects 12.6% increase of probiotics market

BY Michael Johnsen

WILMINGTON, Del. The food and beverage practice at MarketsandMarkets projected the global probiotics market to be worth $32.6 billion by 2014, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 12.6% from 2009 to 2014 during its “Analyst Briefing Presentation on the Global Probiotic Market” held Tuesday.

Europe and Asia are expected to account for nearly 42% and 30% of the total revenues, respectively, in 2014. The U.S. market has opened up to these products in the recent past and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17% from 2009 to 2014, the biggest contributor being probiotic cultured drinks followed by probiotic yogurts. Though the market base of probiotic products is comparatively lesser in the United States, the market is expected to grow at a rate of almost 14% in the same period driven by the large-scale acceptance of probiotic yogurts, probiotic cultured drinks and probiotic dietary supplements.

“The early movers in the industry will benefit in terms of market share but it is important that they focus on innovating probiotic strains that are more efficient in terms of survivability in harsh conditions and stability and are supported by competitively-priced production technologies,” the company stated. “In addition, garnering faith of the consumers by making substantiated and legitimate assertions in terms of health benefits will profit the market in future.”

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