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Lobbyists Play Ball, Flex Muscles On Health Care Reform
The Associated Press reports on lobbying around biotechnology legislation. A letter urging the protection of biotech drug makers from generics from "the private National Health Council, sent to House leaders drafting health overhaul legislation, said the plea was on behalf of "the more than 133 million Americans living with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers." It urged lawmakers to protect the makers of high-technology biological medicines against early competition from lower-cost generic copycats. The letter did not mention that nearly $1.2 million of the council"s $2.3 million budget in 2007 came from the pharmaceutical industry"s chief trade group and 16 companies that sell or are developing the brand-name biotech drugs."

Researchers Edit Genes In Human Stem Cells
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have successfully edited the genome of human- induced pluripotent stem cells, making possible the future development of patient-specific stem cell therapies. Reporting this week in Cell Stem Cell, the team altered a gene responsible for causing the rare blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, or PNH, establishing for the first time a useful system to learn more about the disease.
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Mutations Extending Lifespan Induce Expression Of Germline Genes In Somatic Cells
In the sense that organisms existing today are connected through a chain of life - through their parents, grandparents and other ancestors - almost a billion years back to the first animals of the pre-Cambrian era, an animal"s reproductive cells can be considered to be immortal. These germline cells generate their offspring"s somatic cells - other cells involved in all aspects of growth, metabolism and behavior, which have a set lifespan - and new germline cells that continue on, generation after generation.

Medigap Plans In Illinois To Benefit From Medicare Advantage Reimbursement Cuts.

HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage reimbursement will benefit organizations offering Medicare supplement plans in Illinois. According to the recent Illinois Health Plan Analysis, the shift from Medicare Advantage to Medicare supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, will likely benefit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the state"s top Medigap insurer. Medicare Advantage plans have traditionally not been strong in the Illinois market because of the state"s generous retirement benefit culture. In June 2009, the penetration rate for Medicare Advantage in Illinois was 10 percent, well below the national average of 24 percent. However, in recent years, companies such as HealthSpring entered the state with Medicare Advantage plans that offered many of the same benefits as Medicare supplement policies at a lower price, prompting growth in the state"s Medicare Advantage market.

Presentation At AAPM Meeting On Nanoparticles That Package Cancer-killing Isotopes And Deliver Them Into Cancer Cells.

A group of researchers at Johns Hopkins University has designed nanoparticles that can carry cancer-treating radioisotopes through the body and deliver them selectively to tumors. Today in Anaheim, CA, they will report the latest results of their research, including studies in animal models, at the 51st meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM). The nanoparticles are made with a commercially available product known as "liposomes" -- small chemical spheres made of fatty molecules that can package drugs and other chemicals. Liposomes are a powerful emerging tool in medicine because they can be designed to carry many different drugs and manipulated to control how long they stay in the bloodstream. One type of liposome, Doxil, is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for delivering Doxorubicin, a chemotherapeutic that is toxic to the heart. The Hopkins scientists are using liposomes that have been modified with antibodies, a class of immune system proteins that recognize and bind to many different microscopic targets -- bacteria, viruses, other proteins, and human cells.

Canadian Lung Association Launches New Online Tools To Help People With Lung Disease Find Local Programs.

Want to find an asthma education centre or a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) clinic near you? Need to get a lung function test and don"t know where to go? The Canadian Lung Association is making it easier for Canadians to find help in their area with new online tools: searchable databases of lung disease programs and services available in Canada. By entering your town or city or postal code, you will find programs or lung testing sites near you. For each program listed, you"ll get an interactive map that shows its location. You"ll find out who qualifies for the program, whether you need a doctor"s referral, contact information and hours of operation. "These new online tools make it really easy for people with lung disease to get connected to local services" says Melanie Wise, Consumer Health Information Manager for The Lung Association.

One Force Behind The MYC Oncogene In Many Cancers Uncovered By Fox Chase Researchers.

DLX5, a gene crucial for embryonic development, promotes cancer by activating the expression of the known oncogene, MYC, according to researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center. Since the DLX5 gene is inactive in normal adults, it may be an ideal target for future anti-cancer drugs, they reason. Their findings are published in the July 31 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, available online now. Previously the researchers found that a chromosomal inversion - a genetic misalignment, where part of the chromosome containing the DLX5 gene gets flipped around during cell division - cooperates with another known oncogene, AKT2, to drive cancer in mice. In the current paper, the researchers discover that DLX5 binds to and actively promotes the activity of a gene known as MYC, which evidence has demonstrated is a potent factor in numerous cancers, including lymphoma, lung and pancreatic cancer.