HEALTH

Genetic disorder may delay diagnosis of IBD in children

BY Michael Johnsen

INDIANAPOLIS New findings related to an uncommon genetic disorder may impact the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, the most common chronic gastrointestinal illness in children and teens. Researchers from the United States and Canada have identified a genetic defect not previously known to be a cause of chronic granulomatous disease, an inherited disorder with recurrent bacterial and fungal infections. Some patients also develop gastrointestinal inflammation. CGD, which occurs in 1-in-200,000 patients, is usually diagnosed in childhood.

In addition to providing insight into CGD, a condition in which an enzyme defect prevents white blood cells in the body from killing invading bacteria, the new findings highlight how abnormal white blood cell function can predispose individuals to IBD, and may help provide insight into why IBD develops. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common forms of IBD.

The research was led by Mary Dinauer of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children. The new findings are reported in the Oct. 8 print edition of the journal Blood.

“We now know that a genetic defect that selectively affects the production of oxidants inside of white blood cells can cause gastrointestinal symptoms of CGD,” Dinaur said. “Exploring the gene defect’s role in inflammatory bowel disease and immune processes will be a key priority in the future.”

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CDC refutes reports that influenza vaccine poses risk of developing H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday played down recent media reports describing unpublished findings from seasonal influenza vaccine studies conducted in Canada.

The findings from these studies suggest that receiving the 2008-09 seasonal influenza vaccine (which is the vaccine offered last influenza season) was a risk factor for developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus. In the studies done in Canada, the increase in risk among persons vaccinated with a seasonal influenza vaccine was approximately double the risk for those who were not vaccinated with seasonal influenza vaccine.

“However, the research findings from Canada have not been published in the medical literature or presented at any public scientific meetings. There has not yet been an opportunity to fully review the studies in detail,” CDC stated.

“Preliminary results of studies conducted in the United States using methods similar to the Canadian studies did not indicate that receiving a seasonal influenza vaccine increased the risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus,” the agency added. “No other country has reported that seasonal influenza vaccine increases the risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.”

One one study has been published on this issue — an Australian study that did not find any association between receipt of seasonal influenza vaccine and risk of developing influenza caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

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The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America launches new Web site

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recently launched its updated Web site to usher in the 2010 Walk season comprising more than 100 walks nationwide.

The Foundation reached a new plateau with new interactive features such as a blog, downloadable banners and widgets, and tips and tools for fundraising to support the walks that raise much-needed awareness of and funds for the 1.4 million Americans living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both chronic digestive diseases.

“It’s very important that we create an environment that fosters awareness and support for our Walks, while making the job a little easier for those participating,” stated Cassidy Richards, National Event Director for the Foundation. “One way we’re doing that is with our new banners and widgets in different sizes that people can add to their social networking sites like Facebook.”

The banners and widgets can also be added to participants’ blogs, personal web sites, and on e-mails to friends to help get the word out about Take Steps. Available on the site’s new Spread the Word section, these tools are part of the Foundation’s efforts to help walkers show their support and get others to join Take Steps.

The new Web site also offers helpful suggestions on how to organize fundraisers at school or at work even during these trying economic times. It also encourages people to join a team, make a donation, or take part in volunteer activities through the site’s Get Involved feature.

The upcoming season kicks-off in spring 2010 and will continue into the summer in cities throughout the country.

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