Sunday September 23, 2018

Arthritis drug could cure blood cancer: Researchers

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London: A drug given to arthritis sufferers could be used to treat patients with blood cancer, say researchers from University of Sheffield in Britain.

The discovery may open up cost effective treatment options for people suffering from the blood cancer myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) across the world as the anti-inflammatory medicine is one thousandth of the cost of a promising drug which has been shown to work in the same way.

“We have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of this group of chronic diseases – a breakthrough that may represent a new treatment option able to bring relief to both patients and health funders,” said one of the researchers Martin Zeidler.

Most often diagnosed in people in their 50s and 60s, MPN cause an overproduction of blood cells creating a significant impact on quality-of-life, with symptoms such as night sweats, itching and tiredness.

Currently, MPN treatment is limited to aspirin, removal of excess blood and mild chemotherapy.

Recently, the drug Ruxolitinib was shown to provide relief, but at a cost of over 40,000 pounds per year per patient, it has not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in Britain.

The study has discovered that Methotrexate (MTX) can work in the same way. It is commonly used at low doses to treat inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis and has few side effects.

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“Given that a year’s course of low-dose MTX costs around 30 pounds, the potential to repurpose MTX could provide thousands of patients with a much needed treatment option and also generate substantial savings for health care systems,” Zeidler said.

In this study, the scientists tested the effectiveness of the drug in treating MPN in fruit fly and human cells.

The researchers are now looking to undertake clinical trials to examine the possibility of repurposing low-dose MTX for the treatment of MPNs.

The results of the study appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.

 

(IANS)

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Ebola-Stricken Congo Suffers From A Rebel Attack

The latest Ebola outbreak, which causes hemorrhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhea, is believed to have killed 99 people since July and infected another 48.

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Ebola, congo
The violence "will have a considerable impact on the whole response to Ebola," a local public health official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. VOA

At least 14 civilians were killed on Saturday in a six-hour attack by rebels on the town of Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials told Reuters, warning the unrest may hamper efforts to quash an Ebola epidemic in the area.

The latest outbreak of the deadly disease has been focused in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which have been a tinder box of armed rebellion and ethnic killing since two civil wars in the late 1990s.

Militants believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan Islamist group active in eastern Congo, clashed with Congolese troops in Beni, a town of several hundred thousand people, local civil society leader Kizito Bin Hangi said by telephone.

“Beni is ungovernable this morning. Several protests have been declared in the town where the people express their anger with consternation,” he said.

Ebola, UNICEF. congo
A boy runs past a dispenser containing water mixed with disinfectant, east of Mbandaka, DRC. VOA

In addition to the known fatalities, dozens of civilians were wounded as they fled the violence, which broke out in the early hours of Saturday evening and lasted until midnight, Bin Hangi added.

A spokesman for the army declined immediate comment.

The attack underscores the challenges the government and health organizations face in tackling Ebola in an area where years of instability has undermined locals’ confidence in the authorities.

The violence “will have a considerable impact on the whole response to Ebola,” a local public health official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“The general hospital which houses one of the Ebola treatment centers was the focus of angry protests this morning.

Ebola, Congo
Little 11-year-old German Umba, whose father died in May of Ebola and who is being monitored by the U.N. for potential signs of infection along with her 6-year-old brother, hides her face in her shirt, sobbing, outside her classroom in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

This is a normal reaction for a community that is bereaved for the umpteenth time,” the official said.

Also Read: Ebola Increases The Number of Orphans in DRC: UNICEF

The latest Ebola outbreak, which causes hemorrhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhea, is believed to have killed 99 people since July and infected another 48. (VOA)