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HealthWrap: New lung-cancer detection


UPI Correspondent

LONDON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- French scientists have announced they have identified subtle changes in the blood that occur during the early stages of lung cancer, a discovery that could revolutionize the disease's survival rates.

Lung cancer is the most fatal form of cancer, as most patients -- as many as 80 percent -- are not diagnosed until the disease has progressed too far for treatment to be successful.

Following on from the French discovery, it may now be possible to develop a blood test that could identify lung cancer and other lung diseases, including emphysema, before they could be spotted with conventional X-ray testing.

In clinical trials conducted in Montpellier, France, blood tests were able to identify 85 percent of subjects with lung diseases, including lung cancer, out of a study group of 170.

The tests work by detecting and identifying the protein signatures in the blood caused by cancer -- each type of cancer leaves a different protein signature, making them uniquely identifiable. This new research posits that the protein signatures are present in the blood before symptoms of lung cancer -- including tumors -- appear.

Study leader Dr. William Jacot, from Montpellier's Hôpital Arnaud de Villeneuve, told Britain's Daily Express: "Patients who receive early treatment can have encouraging outcomes, with five-year survival rates reaching up to 60 (percent) to 70 percent in the best case scenario.

"An increase in early stage detection of lung cancer could be associated with a greater rate of curative treatment and thereby a reduction in lung cancer mortality rates."

Jacot's findings were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Conference in Istanbul, Turkey.


New research conducted by experts at Atlanta's Emory University has found that the female hormone progesterone may be useful in treating head injuries.

Progesterone, a hormone released during pregnancy, has been shown in animal studies to reduce swelling and prevent nerve death when administered shortly after a head injury has occurred.

But Dr. David W. Wright and colleagues have found that progesterone reduces the risk of death and disability in those who have suffered traumatic head injuries and have found evidence that suggests that for those who have suffered moderate head injuries, progesterone improves recovery.

The Georgia researchers studied 100 adults who had reached the emergency department within 11 hours of suffering a head injury. The subjects were randomly allocated either a placebo or intravenous progesterone. Neither group reported any serious side effects, and the only side effect reported by those who had been given progesterone was a slight inflammation at the injection site.

Thirty days after the patients had first sought treatment, 30 percent of the placebo group had died, compared with 13 percent of the progesterone group. These figures imply that administering progesterone within 11 hours of injury cuts the risk of death by 57 percent.

The benefit of progesterone, Wright says, is that it is already widely available at a low cost and can enter the brain quickly and safely. However, while these findings are encouraging, further research -- including a one-year follow-up of the surviving members of both groups -- must be conducted before progesterone use can be widely recommended for head-injury victims.

The findings were published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.


Japanese scientists have identified the hormone responsible for making mammals feel full, a breakthrough it is hoped will help to stem the growing obesity epidemic.

In an article published in the online version of the journal Nature over the weekend, a team from Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine claims that through research on rats they have established that the hormone nesfatin-1, produced naturally in the brain, controls the hunger impulse.

When rats' brains were injected with nesfatin-1, the rats consumed less food and began to lose weight. Conversely, when nesfatin-1 was blocked, the rats ate more and put on weight.

Using this research, it is hoped that it will eventually be possible to use nesfatin-1 to pharmacologically control eating impulses and halt weight gain in obese people, thereby reducing the risk of chronic heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.


In related news, U.S. scientists have published research indicating that the compulsion to overeat is similar to drug addiction, which may explain why the severely overweight often find it so difficult to moderate their eating habits.

Dr. Gene-Jack Wang of New York's Brookhaven National Laboratory and colleagues performed brain scans on seven overweight subjects and established that the part of the brain that controlled the "full feeling" in those people was the same as that which causes drug cravings in addicts. All of the subjects had previously been fitted with implantable gastric stimulators, electronic weight-reduction implements that diminish the appetite by using the vagus nerve to send messages of satiety to the brain.

The subjects were given two scans, each two weeks apart. In one scan the implantable gastric simulator was switched on, and in the other it was switched off.

With the implant on and the subjects feeling sated, brain scans showed an increased metabolism in the hippocampus area of the brain, a part associated with emotional behavior and learning and memory.

The BBC quoted Wang as saying, "As soon as we saw these scans, immediately it reminded me of what we had studied in drug abuse when people were under a craving situation -- the same areas in the brain lit up."

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