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Sep 17, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- STUDY FINDS HAND WASHING RELUCTANCE

In the absence of a bacterial epidemic, a study suggests people let down their guard easily when it comes to hand washing. A recent survey of 7,541 U.S. airport bathroom users found a surprising number of travelers were not washing their hands. In contrast, the vast majority of travelers using bathrooms in Toronto -- a hotspot of the recent SARS epidemic -- were scrupulous scrubbers. "Although hand washing seems like such a little thing, it could really have a powerful impact on the way we manage the spread of infectious disease, and newer public health threats like SARS and the Norwalk virus responsible for cruise ship illness," said American Chemical Society secretary Dr. Judy Daly.


A new technology for comparing normal DNA to cancerous DNA could provide clues to the genetic basis for cancer. ROMA or Representational Oligonucleotide Microarray Analysis, is a technique capable of uncovering large numbers of chromosomal amplifications and deletions in the DNA of breast cancer cells as compared to normal cells. This makes it a powerful tool in screening for breast and other cancers across the entire human genome. In addition, the researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory who developed the technique found ROMA reveals significant differences between separate non-cancerous DNA samples. Such differences in genomic sequences could make individuals who bear them more prone to cancer and, therefore, ROMA could become a powerful screening tool for cancer-susceptability.


New research details how a class of drugs used to treat diabetes also inhibits cancerous tumor growth. Two million Americans with Type 2 diabetes currently take drugs called glitazones, marketed under the names Avandia and Actos. Previous studies have shown glitazones work against tumors, and now researchers at Georgetown University have decoded the complex molecular relationship between breast cancer and diabetes that makes glitazones effective in each case. "This study shows for the first time a direct link between a gene causing breast and other cancers (Cyclin D1) and a gene linked to diabetes and the production of fat cells (PPAR gamma)," said Dr. Richard Pestell, director of Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. "The link between these cellular components may be a lynchpin in some cancers -- linking some cancers and metabolism directly. Potentially, we could be on the way to finding new therapeutic leads that would improve both diseases."


A recent review of blood sugar testing methods presents diabetics with options. Doctors recommend people who take insulin for diabetes test their blood glucose levels four times a day. Failure to do so can result in serious health complications, but the most common test -- piercing a finger and squeezing out a drop of blood -- is painful in its repetition. Dr. Robert Gabbay, director of the Penn State College diabetes program, conducted a review of new developments in glucose monitoring technology, both for patient comfort and for their potential to improve patient compliance. Alternative testing methods include smaller samples from legs and other parts of the body, sampling intestinal fluid, and sub-cutaneous continuous glucose monitoring.


(EDITORS: For more information on HANDS contact Jim Sliwa at or (202) 942-9297. For CANCER, contact Peter Sherwood at or (516) 367-6947. For DIABETES, contact Lindsey Spindle at and (202) 687-7707. For GLUCOSE, contact Valerie Gliem at or (814) 865-9481)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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