Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Public Health Problem With Arsenic In Baltimore Parks

Following the closure of Swann Park because of arsenic contamination, Baltimore City has completed its review of city parks and found no other public health risks associated with arsenic. The review was conducted in coordination with the Maryland Department of the Environment with input from federal and local experts.
%26quot;Because of its proximity to a former chemical manufacturing facility, Swann Park is unique,%26quot; said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Commissioner of Health. %26quot;This review is reassuring to all of us who regularly enjoy the parks in the city.%26quot;
Last summer and fall, the Maryland Department of the Environment conducted spot testing of 11 parks. This review was released in January 2008. None of the test results were close to the range of Swann Park, which reached thousands of parts per million of arsenic.
As planned, the city (through its consultant Environmental Resources Management, Inc.) conducted follow-up testing at four parks. This testing has revealed no levels of arsenic of public health significance. Results were reviewed with senior scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in the federal government and local experts at Johns Hopkins.
Meanwhile, Swann Park’s remediation is proceeding on schedule. Excavation of soils is near completion, and air monitoring results have not shown any problems.
"We appreciate the work of many agencies to check on the park system," said Wanda Durden, the new director of the Department of Parks & Recreation. "We are looking forward to a great summer."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Small Protein Can Broaden Immune Response In Humans

Treating cancer patients with interleukin-7 (IL-7), a small protein that can stimulate the immune system, leads to an increase in lymphocytes, key to the production of effective immune responses, in the body, according to a new study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The demonstration that IL-7 is able to broaden the possible immune responses in humans could have a wide range of clinical implications. This study was published online June 23, 2008, in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.
%26quot;Our results are only a first step in a long process,%26quot; said the study’s lead author, Claude Sport s, M.D., of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. %26quot;Potential clinical applications need to be tested systematically in order to define the field of clinical application for the drug.%26quot;
Chemotherapy and HIV infection often deplete the body of lymphocytes, thereby, reducing immune function. With aging, individuals older than 45 to 50 years are generally incapable of regenerating significant amounts of na ve T lymphocytes, because of the progressive loss of function of the thymus, the organ where T lymphocytes differentiate in order to perform very specific functions. In contrast, in younger adults, restoration of na ve T cell populations takes 12 to 24 months. Na ve T cells are essential for the immune system to be able to adapt to new pathogens encountered in life and to support the body’s ability to fight cancer.
IL-7 is a naturally produced cytokine that is essential for T cell development during fetal life. Cytokines are small proteins produced by cells of the immune system that help regulate immune responses. IL-7 remains critical after birth for maintaining some types of T cells in the body. Previous research in animal models has shown that IL-7 can help restore T cell populations.
To assess the effects of IL-7 treatment in humans, the researchers administered a laboratory-generated form of IL-7 (rhIL-7) to 16 cancer patients with solid tumors, who had not responded to standard treatment, under their skin every other day for 14 days. The patients, whose ages ranged from 20 to 71 years, each received a total of eight doses of rhIL-7. The researchers found an increase in the total number of lymphocytes in the patient’s bloodstreams. The number of CD4+ T cells increased by about 300 percent and the number of CD8+ T cells increased over 400 percent. One function of CD4+ T cells is to act as "helper" cells and recruit the activity of other immune cells, whereas CD8+ T cells act directly as cytotoxic T cells that kill infected cells and tumor cells. The greatest effect of rhIL-7 was on na ve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Remarkably, this cytokine promoted the expansion of na ve T cells in older individuals, returning their T cell profile in the blood to what is seen in younger people and children. Treatment with rhIL-7 also had a notable effect on the number of memory CD4+ T cells, which play a key role in the body’s defense against tumors and chronic, persistent viral infections.
The changes induced by rhIL-7 reflected increases in the total numbers of lymphocytes in the body. These higher lymphocyte numbers remained elevated for up to six weeks after treatment ended. The researchers found that rhIL-7 caused increases in lymphocyte proliferation as well as an influx of lymphocytes into the bloodstream from lymphoid tissues, such as the lymph nodes and the spleen. They did not observe a direct effect on the thymus during this two-week study; however, other studies have shown that, in adults, participation by the thymus in immune cell restoration may take several months after T cell depletion.
"These findings may lead to a large number of clinical applications for IL-7," said Sport s. "For example, there might be therapeutic applications in immune-compromised individuals, such as in cancer or HIV-infected patients, to boost lymphocyte counts and immune responses. It might also be used to enhance immune responses to conventional vaccines, particularly in older individuals, as well as responses to cancer vaccines or other forms of cancer immunotherapy."
"NCI has long been at the forefront of the clinical development of IL-7, and we plan to continue exploring the biologic properties of IL-7 in humans and to define its clinical applications," added Sport s.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Massachusetts Proposes Use of Graphic Anti-Smoking Posters

Anti-smoking campaign in the past few years have led to growing arena of smoke-free zones, increased taxes on tobacco products, as well as improving state and local programs to help smokers to maintain.
Massachusetts wants to add to the anti-smoking campaign, becoming the first state in the nation to force retailers to prominently graphic warnings about the dangers of kureniya.Graficheskih posters will not be placed "out of sight" but must be placed next to the tobacco sales racks, cash registers, where they can not be missed.
The posters will contain images of ominously darkened lungs, brain damage, and bad teeth to show the dangers of tobacco use. Retailers who refuse to display symptoms within two feet of tobacco displays and cash register could face a fine of $ 100 to $ 300.
Department of Health of Massachusetts proposed a campaign that now must be approved by the Public Health Council. The Boston Globe reports that the doctors, disease trackers and consumer activists on board have already expressed support for such mery.Sovet will meet in August.

Posters on the model of personal-left-fantasy campaign in New York, where the signs depicting the health effects of smoking began appearing in stores in December last year.
The campaign is guaranteed $ 316,000 in federal stimulus money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will allow the state to provide the materials to retailers without charge.