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Posted - Jan. 9, 2004 at 7:40 a.m.



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Jan 09, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TREATMENT MAY BENEFIT COLITIS PATIENTS

A study indicates treatment with the drug VSL#3 may help forestall a complication of colon-removing surgery in patients with ulcerative colitis. The year-long study found use of the so-called "probiotic" formula of high concentrations of bacterial strains can help maintain remission in patients with pouchitis, a post-operative complication, researchers report in the British medical journal Gut. The study also noted patients who took VSL#3 reported improved quality of life, compared to those who received a placebo. Officials of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America say some 25 percent to 40 percent of the 500,000 patients with ulcerative colitis will need their colon removed and an internal pouch created to store stool using a portion of the small intestine. Pouchitis is the most frequent and serious long-term complication of this surgery.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS DRUG FOUND TO WORK WELL

Abbott Laboratories scientists say their rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira, introduced a year ago, has helped more than 40,000 patents. They say the drug has been shown to lessen the pain, swelling and fatigue associated with the crippling joint disease that affects 5 million people around the world. In September, the European Union authorized marketing of Humira for adult rheumatoid arthritis, making it the first fully human monoclonal antibody approved for the disease in Europe. Humira has been approved in 37 countries. Clinical trials are examining the effectiveness of the drug in treating other inflammatory autoimmune diseases, including psoriatic arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's disease.

PET PINPOINTS MOOD DISORDERS

Researchers say studies suggest methamphetamine abusers suffer abnormal brain activity related to depression and anxiety when they first quit the drug. If left unaddressed, the mood disorders may undercut success in therapy and contribute to relapse, say the scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, Neuropsychiatric Institute. The study using positron emission tomography, detailed in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first to map the underlying pathology in the brains of methamphetamine users in early abstinence, when most begin treatment. The findings point to ways to improve addiction treatment results among methamphetamine abusers by also treating depression and anxiety symptoms that accompany drug cravings during the first week of therapy, the authors said. No medication has proven effective in helping addicts recover. "In order to develop more effective therapies for treating methamphetamine users, it's imperative to understand the underlying pathology in the brain," said the study's principal investigator Dr. Edythe London.

(Editors: For more information about COLITIS, contact Megan Stalgaitis at (800) 477-9626 or MeganS@mcspr.com. For ARTHRITIS, Shannon Ricker at (312) 240-2620 or shannon.ricker@edelman.com. For PET, Dan Page at (310) 794-2265 or dpage@support.ucla.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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