PHARMACY

New research: Insulin linked to core body temperature

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a direct link between insulin and core body temperature. While much research has been conducted on insulin since its discovery in the 1920s, this is the first time the hormone has been connected to the fundamental process of temperature regulation.

The paper was published recently in an advance, online issue of the journal Diabetes, a journal of the American Diabetes Association, and will appear in the January print edition of the publication.

The scientists found that when insulin was injected directly into a specific area of the brain in rodents, core body temperature rose, metabolism increased, and brown adipose (fat) tissue was activated to release heat. The research team also found that these effects were dose-dependent — up to a point, the more insulin, the more these metabolic measures rose.

“Scientists have known for many years that insulin is involved in glucose regulation in tissues outside the brain,” said Scripps Research neurobiologist Manuel Sanchez-Alavez, who was first author of the new paper with Bartfai lab colleagues Iustin V. Tabarean and Olivia Osborn (now at the University of California, San Diego). “The connection to temperature regulation in the brain is new.”

In addition to suggesting a fresh perspective on such diseases as diabetes that involve the disruption of insulin pathways, the study adds to our understanding of core body temperature — the temperature of those parts of the body containing vital organs (namely, the trunk and the head. Normally, core body temperature stays within a narrow range so that key enzymatic reactions can occur. When core body temperature goes outside this range for prolonged periods — higher as in fever, or lower as in hypothermia — the result is harm to the body.

More modest variations in core body temperature are associated with our daily 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, the female monthly hormonal cycle and the effects of severe calorie restriction.

“Our paper highlights the possibility that differences in core temperature may play a role in obesity and may represent a therapeutic area in future drug design,” added Osborn.

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MinuteClinic opens first retail clinic in D.C.

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON MinuteClinic, the retail-based healthcare system owned by CVS Caremark, has opened its first retail healthcare center in Washington, D.C., inside a CVS/pharmacy.

The clinic is open seven days a week and will serve patients in Northeast neighborhoods, including Trinidad, Carver Langston, Kingman Park, Atlas District, Ivy City and the Gallaudet University campus.

The MinuteClinic healthcare center in Northeast is located at 845 Bladensburg Road and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“Through this conveniently located store-based clinic, we are expanding access to high-quality, affordable care for common family illnesses in the Northeast neighborhoods of the District of Columbia,” said Andrew Sussman, M.D., MinuteClinic president. “We are committed to making our innovative model, which includes a series of prevention and wellness services, part of the District’s extensive efforts to broaden access to quality medical care for its citizens.”

Additional MinuteClinic locations are expected to open inside CVS/pharmacy stores in the District of Columbia in 2010. There are 23 MinuteClinic healthcare centers inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in Northern Virginia and Maryland counties surrounding the District of Columbia.

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NVHR: New data finding less than 1-in-5 hepatitis C patients receiving antiviral therapy

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON New peer-reviewed data finding that fewer than one-fifth of the nearly 4 million Americans infected with chronic hepatitis C virus have received antiviral therapy in recent years should be a wake-up call that Congress needs to move urgently on bipartisan legislation to support new state-based detection, research, and surveillance efforts, the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable said Tuesday.

The research trends identified in the new study were conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and published in the December issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Among the key findings:

  • Only about 663,000 of the estimated 3.9 million Americans infected with chronic hepatitis C virus received antiviral therapy between 2002 and 2007
  • Treatment rates appear to be declining in part because only one-half of all HCV patients know they are infected
  • Barriers to HCV screening including the absence of health insurance coverage, limited access to standard medical care, and lower priority of HCV testing by primary care physicians; and
  • Increased public health efforts are needed to improve access to antiviral therapy and the researchers recommend further research of health services delivery and quality of care for HCV patients.

NVHR, a coalition dedicated to reducing the incidence of infection, morbidity, and mortality from viral hepatitis in the United States, warned that without congressional action, millions of Americans infected with chronic hepatitis C virus are at serious risk of developing cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure, which will add billions of dollars in unnecessary costs to our healthcare system every year, NVHR said. According to research firm Milliman, the cost of chronic hepatitis C virus infection alone could reach $85 billion annually by 2024.

Last month, bipartisan legislation, The Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Honda, D-Calif., and Charles Dent, R-Pa., and co-sponsored by 10 House members.  H.R. 3974 would support a comprehensive prevention, research, and medical management referral program for chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C virus infection. The bill would provide a relatively modest $90 million in funding in 2011 (with additional funding thereafter) that will increase the ability of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support state health departments in their prevention, immunization and surveillance efforts.

“These shocking data should serve as a wake-up call that current public-health detection, treatment, and surveillance efforts for chronic hepatitis C viral infection are wholly inadequate,” said NVHR chair Lorren Sandt. “In terms of detection and treatment, the proverbial low-hanging fruit has been picked.  In order to help our system reach under-served populations, Congress needs to act now on the bipartisan Honda-Dent legislation. Without action from Washington to support state-based efforts, millions of Americans will suffer from severe hepatitis-related complications and cost our health system tens of billions of dollars annually in avoidable medical costs.”

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