Research: ETBF may cause diarrhea in cancer patients
BALTIMORE Johns Hopkins scientists say they have figured out how bacteria that cause diarrhea also may be the culprit in some colon cancers. The investigators say that strains of the common Bacteroides fragilis dupe immune system cells into permitting runaway colon tissue inflammation, a precursor for malignant growth.
“This could be the H. pylori of colon cancer,” stated Johns Hopkins infectious disease specialist, Cynthia Sears, referring to the bacteria long known to cause stomach ulcers and suspected of causing the majority of stomach cancers. Her studies suggest that ETBF uses tissue inflammation to cause colon cancer in a similar way that H. pylori causes stomach tumors.
A so-called enterotoxigenic bacterium, the germ is widely known to cause diarrhea in children and adults in the developing and developed world, and a previous study in Turkey has linked it to colon cancer.
The bacteria, which colonize in the gut, cause no symptoms in some individuals, but others develop diarrhea and colon inflammation, which has been linked to cancer growth. Unlike the case with H. pylori, it is unknown whether standard antibiotics can eradicate the microbe, experts said.
To track the link between ETBF and colon cancer, the Johns Hopkins researchers conducted a series of tests in mice bred to carry mutations in a colon cancer-causing gene called APC.
Their results, published in the Aug. 23 issue of Nature Medicine, show that mice infected with ETBF developed diarrhea which resolved quickly, but within a week, developed inflammation and small tumors in the colon. One month later, the colons were pockmarked with tumors.
Mice infected with a non-toxin producing strain of the bacteria were free of diarrhea, inflammation and tumors.
“If what we are seeing in mice holds true in humans, the chronic inflammation damages genetic material in the colon cells, allowing them to grow uncontrollably and develop into tumors earlier and more progressively than if they were not infected with ETBF,” commented Drew Pardoll, an immunologist and cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins.
Sears and Pardoll believe that ETBF may collude with other types of normal bacteria in the gut to promote cancer. The microbe itself is difficult to culture from stool specimens, according to the investigators, so they are working on blood tests to detect antibodies to the pathogen’s toxin, which may show whether an individual has been exposed to it and perhaps determine who may be at risk for colon cancer.
The investigators also envision vaccines and drug therapies that neutralize the pathogen’s toxin and its ability to inflame tissues.
Walgreens announces Pharmacy Management Excellence program with Caterpillar
The news that Walgreens has reached an agreement with Caterpillar to help the company curb healthcare costs for its 70,000 employees, retirees and eligible dependents is one more indicator that the private sector cannot wait for healthcare reform and that pharmacy retailers are taking a greater role on the front lines of health care.
As explained in the article, Walgreens, through its Pharmacy Management Excellence program, will make transparent the prescription drug-pricing model, in turn, eliminating unnecessary and hidden costs for Caterpillar.
Walgreens and Caterpillar are also exploring, through Walgreens Complete Care and Well-Being program, other ways to develop an integrated health care and pharmacy program. The Complete Care and Well-Being program combines worksite health centers, in-store clinics and pharmacies with the discount drug offering
By leveraging its resources, Walgreens is positioning itself along the frontlines of the healthcare and sending the message that retail pharmacy is helping to drive healthcare reform and is a critical player in improving employees’ health and well-being.
As previously mentioned by Drug Store News, the more the private sector leads the way on this, the more likely that reform will work for them, as well as the rest of America.
MedImmune launches ‘Don’t Play with the Flu’ campaign
NEW YORK MedImmune, Women’s Professional Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization last week launched the “Don’t Play with the Flu” campaign, which aims to highlight the importance of getting a seasonal influenza vaccination every year. The program kicked off with soccer legends Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain.
“‘Don’t Play with the Flu’ reflects MedImmune’s commitment to supporting healthy families,” stated Tony Zook, president of MedImmune. “We’re very pleased to partner with Women’s Professional Soccer, the American Youth Soccer Organization, and of course Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain, to bring this important preventive health message to families across the country this flu season.”
“We know a vaccine is the best way to help protect ourselves from the flu, so my family and I get a seasonal flu vaccine as soon as we can every year,” stated Hamm. “That way we can concentrate on all the other things we regularly do to stay healthy on and off the field and in our busy lives.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the best way families can help prevent the seasonal flu is by getting a flu vaccine every year for those individuals who are eligible to receive it. The CDC recommends that children 6 months through 18 years of age be vaccinated annually against seasonal flu and that eligible individuals be immunized as soon as the seasonal vaccine becomes available, which can be as early as August and September.
“Along with all the things that parents know are important for helping keep their kids healthy — like washing hands and getting enough sleep — influenza vaccination should be at the top of the list. It’s a smart defense to help protect our kids and our families from seasonal flu,” stated Anat Feingold, a pediatric infectious disease expert. “And because kids can spread the flu, including at school, it’s important that parents ask about an annual flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Back-to-school and sports physicals can be the perfect opportunity.”
The campaign offers families information, resources, and updates through DontPlaywiththeFlu.com, including interactive content, a quiz about seasonal flu and educational information. The campaign also aims to educate families about the importance of seasonal flu vaccination for eligible individuals through informational brochures at WPS stadiums, media events and soccer clinics in WPS franchise cities, and directly to AYSO members and families around the country.
As a part of the campaign, MedImmune has become a sponsor of WPS, the world’s premier women’s professional soccer league, and AYSO, a nationwide nonprofit youth soccer organization that develops and delivers quality youth soccer programs to approximately 600,000 players. MedImmune was the presenting sponsor of the 2009 WPS Championship in Los Angeles Aug. 22, and will also present the “Defender of the Year” award at the WPS All-Star Game in St. Louis on Aug. 30.