The evaluation on the carcinogenicity of red meat by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – and not by WHO as many media reported – has given rise to a range of misunderstandings and is an example of how scientific communication on topics with a major public impact may prove extremely difficult.
An increasing complexity seems to characterize the scenario of the European drug problem.
Talking about the European Region does not mean speaking of a homogeneous situation, also from the point of view of health. To realize how complex and articulated the European scenario is, just think that in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Turkey twice as many children die before the age of five if the figures are compared with so-called industrialized countries. Not to mention the infectious diseases, the use of alcohol and tobacco, which reflect a Europe still deeply layered and with several countries still extremely dependent on their history.
The relationship between genetic heritage and environment has considerable effects on health and healthcare. Individual differences have an important outcome in susceptibility to diseases and treatments. Moreover, physiology and health status are influenced by environmental conditions and life-style.
The science journal Nature, one of the most widespread in the world, dedicates three pages of its last issue (June 19) to Elena Cattaneo, biologist and senator for life, and Gilberto Corbellini, historian of medicine, for a comment on the Stamina case and the attempt to impose a therapy with no scientific basis. Both of them are Italian and the Stamina case is also Italian (we were about to write, typically Italian).
In Europe, people aged more than 50 years old are about 150 million. Prevention, care and cure regarding aged people are core concerns for European Commission. Among the chronic pathologies, osteoarthritis is the second disease in Italy. It has high prevalence in the population older than 65 years, but the prevalence in younger age groups appears to be on the increase.
On the stage where the so-called “Stamina case” is being performed – a tragedy disguised as a farce – reflectors have not lightened yet the female protagonists, who are still remaining in the shadows. Or maybe there is where the male actors want to keep them: the star, Davide Vannoni; his right-hand man, Marino Andolina; the deus ex machina, Gianfranco Merizzi, president of Medestea, the company holder of the proprietary rights for the so-called “Stamina method”.
The new research center :envihab at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne represents a bridge between the traditional medicine on Earth and the space medicine. The structure, with an area of 3500 square meters and a cost of 30 million Euro, will be used to study the effects of extreme environmental conditions on the human body and to determine the possible countermeasures. For example, the researchers will study the effects of aging, bed rest, immobilization and isolation on Earth.
Telethon Scientific and Medical Committee assigned few days ago the new grants for 2013. Projects selection is extremely rigorous and articulate: Telethon, in fact, follows the same process of the US National Institute of Health, which only honours merit and is considered the best in the world. Scientific publications from Telethon Research, on average, obtain 60% more citations than the US average (based on Thomson Reuters citation-index calculations).
The definition of landmark studies attributed to the two studies published in Science that report the results obtained at the Milan TIGET, respectively on metachromatic leukodystrophy and the Wiskott Aldrich syndrome, is not a daring exaggeration. Indeed, for the first time we may speak of an effective treatment against two diseases which, until now, had given little (or no) hope.
The ethics of clinical tests is controversial. Paradoxically, instead of moving towards more and more protected conditions, some research still has gray areas because enrolled patients do not always have the same guarantees.
The announcement that the Nobel Prizes for Physiology and Medicine have been awarded to Sir John Gurdon (Cambridge) and Shinya Yamanaka (Kyoto) comes as no surprise. For decades now, genetic reprogramming of terminally differentiated somatic cells ("adult" cells) has been a hot topic and one of the most significant life science research themes.
In order Anders Behring Breivik finally receives a verdict: he was sentenced to 21 years of “preventive detention” for the massacre carried out one year ago in Norway.
On Tuesday the 28th August, the European court of Human Rights declared the ruling that many couples wanting to have children were awaiting. A decision which sanctions, without a shadow of doubt, the inadequacy and inconsistency of Italian legislation regulating medically assisted reproduction.
In 2009, for the first time, U.S. deaths linked to drug abuse exceeded those caused by road accidents (see chart), according to the Federal agency of the U.S. Government "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ", which in 75% of cases points the finger at the inappropriateness of prescriptions. The main cause of medicines abuse is the dependence on analgesics in the opioid family.
We can define it "pill pollution”. Yes, we're talking about just that, the “birth control pill” which, in the last fifty years has modified our sexual behavior and, as a result, the lives of hundreds of millions of people, making it possible to dissociate between sexuality and reproduction. Right now at least 100 million women are using the birth control pill.
An old but effective drug against diabetes can also help in the fight against breast cancer. Probably, if administered to healthy women it can prevent its insurgence. These are the important results of a study on metformin just published on Nature Communication, and conducted by the team of Giovanni Blandino of the National Cancer Institute Regina Elena (IRCCS). In this work metformin exerts some of its antitumor activities by reprogramming the metabolism of a tumor cell.
Smoking kills one person every six seconds and today it is under all respects one of the worst epidemic ever faced globally. The World Health Organisation estimated that almost 6 million people lose their lives each year due to damage from smoking. Among the victims, more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to passive smoking.
Low doses of aspirin reduce by 40% the recurrence of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, affecting 130,000 people every year in Italy, with a high mortality rate (30,000 per year) and an equally high incidence of disability through the post-phlebitis syndrome (ulcers, varicose veins). To demonstrate the effectiveness of aspirin is a study on the New England Journal of Medicine conducted by Cecilia Becattini and Giancarlo Agnelli, of the University of Perugia.
Cannabinoid Drugs and Medical Cannabis
On 2 May, the Regional Council of Tuscany approved by majority vote a law that will make it easier for residents to use cannabinoid drugs as opioid adjuvants in pain therapy and palliative treatment of chronic debilitating conditions (AIDS, anorexia, cachexia, etc.) . To this end, hospitals and local health authorities will ensure the import of cannabinoid drugs, which will be administered under the supervision and at the expense of the regional health system.
Researchers working at universities or in independent research centers cannot by themselves change the fate of the sick. They can identify crucial mechanisms underlying a disease and find out how to correct them; they can test their intuitions in vitro and in animal models, they can even perform the first stage of a clinical trial, if they find the appropriate funding, but, especially when it comes to innovative therapies, they will never be able to bring the treatments to all those who need them.
The Italian Constitution guarantees scientific freedom. Based on this affirmation, seemingly simple and obvious, the Document issued by the Commission on ethical problems, posed by the science of the Waldensian Church, reiterates what should be considered a fundamental point in the debate, today more fervent than ever, regarding scientific research on human embryonic stem cells.
In 2010, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the lowest number of new drugs in the last decade. This is not surprising, considering that it takes at least 10 years to register a drug, the total cost is about one billion dollars, and that at least 9 out of 10 of those for which clinical development is initiated, fall by the wayside. Some striking example? Rimonabant for obesity and metabolic syndrome, the monoclonal antibody ocrelizumab for rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Prof. Hans Bärlocher left the hospital after a long working day. Outside the building, he took a deep breath of fresh Spring air; then, he smelled his right hand. Yes, it had the faint, but typical copper smell. This reassured him that he had not pick up any germs when going through the series of doors to leave the clinic. All the doors in his hospital had recently been refitted with door handles and push plates of antimicrobial copper.
Pandolfi M, Homeopathy: Ex nihilo fit nihil, Eur J Intern Med (2010), doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2010.03.003
Published on BMJ 2010; 340: C1578
Among the priorities for the European health directorate, DG Sanco, as it takes control of the agency in charge of drug regulation should be to end the secrecy surrounding approval decisions, say Silvio Garattini and Vittorio Bertelé