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Sep 18, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TEST FOR EARLY LUNG CANCER

Duke University researchers say a new test aimed at detecting lung and other cancers early could be a lifesaver. The non-invasive diagnostic test can detect trace amounts of systemic proteins associated with cancer long before current scanning methods. "The biology of lung cancer may have been played out by the time we detect a tumor using imaging studies like PET and CT scans," said Dr. Edward Patz, professor of radiology and pharmacology/cancer biology at Duke. "This is why we're trying to develop very sensitive biomarkers that can detect the disease in high-risk individuals early enough to treat them successfully." Using an instrument called "MALDI-TOF MS," the researchers have identified a specific protein, serum amyloid A, which is elevated in the blood of lung cancer patients but not in the blood of normal patients. They have been able to detect small amounts of amyloid A present near the onset of cancer.


New drugs may provide a safer alternative to still the heartbeat during open-heart surgery. Doctors currently administer potassium ions to stop the heart from beating for the hour or so necessary to unclog arteries, replace valves or perform a bypass. However, potassium can cause permanent damage to the heart muscles and now researchers at Cook University in Townsville, Australia, have developed an alternative technique, using the drugs adenosine and lignocaine. "By keeping potassium levels normal they are preventing injuries to the muscle cells and to the vessels that carry blood to the heart," says Dr. Peter Macdonald, a cardiologist at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.


An animal study finds newer schizophrenia drugs cause fewer side effects than older medications but both effectively reduce symptoms. Researchers at the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia compared the long-term effects of older antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol and chlorpromazine, against newer drugs, such as olanzapine, risperidone and clozapine. The older classes of drugs, while effective in quelling delusions and hallucinations, also impair the ability to think, learn and remember, says pharmacologist Dr. Alvin V. Terry Jr. The newer drugs, although much more expensive than their older counterparts, cause fewer problems with movement disorders and clinical evidence suggests they also may cause fewer cognitive problems, the researchers say.


Researchers have identified a protein implicated in rheumatoid arthritis that could lead to new treatment options. At St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Japan, scientists report the discovery of "synoviolin," an enzyme found in abnormally high levels in diseased joints. It causes an overgrowth of joint-destroying synovial cells -- a key clinical feature of rheumatoid arthritis. By reducing levels of synoviolin, the researchers hope to halt the progression of the disease, which affects approximately up to 1 percent of the adult population worldwide.


(EDITORS: For more information on LUNGS contact Becky Levine at or (919) 684-4148. For HEART contact or 44-207-331-2751. For SCHIZOPHRENIA contact Toni Bake at or (706) 721-4421. For ARTHRITIS contact Heather Cosel at

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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