Archive for January, 2010


Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

New research findings from a team at the Providence Heart + Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia (UBC) may lead to new treatment options for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - a potentially fatal disease that currently has no pharmacological treatments.

Dr. David Granville, University of British Columbia
“Dr. David Granville
University of British Columbia
and St. Paul’s Hospital
photo: UBC

An aortic aneurysm is a bulging of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. If the aneurysm ruptures, it causes rapid blood loss and a high risk of death. About 75 per cent of all aortic aneurysms occur in the part of the aorta that is located in the abdomen, which supplies blood to the lower limbs.

Published in today’s American Journal of Pathology, a study led by Dr. David Granville, a researcher with UBC and the Providence Heart + Lung Institute, reveals a novel therapeutic target for AAA that could have a major impact on the treatment of this disease.

Using experimental models of AAA, Dr. Granville and his team identified a protein degrading enzyme called Granzyme B that is abundant in aneurysms. To determine whether Granzyme B was contributing to aneurysms, the enzyme was genetically knocked out.

“When we removed Granzyme B, we found that it not only slowed the progression of aneurysms, but also markedly improved survival,” says Dr. Granville. “This suggests that drugs designed specifically to target Granzyme B could be an effective means of treating aneurysms.”

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our News Pages.


Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Universite de Montreal research team developing leptin based pill to control hunger. A Universite de Montreal research team is developing a pill composed of leptin, the protein that tells our brain to stop eating. “Mice deprived of leptin will not stop eating. They become so big they have trouble moving around,” says Moise Bendayan, a pathology professor at the Universite de Montreal Faculty of Medicine who has studied the leptin protein extensively.

Dr. Moise Bendayan, Universite de Montreal
“Dr Moise Bendayan
Universite de Montreal
Faculty of Medicine
photo: Universite de Montreal

Leptin regulates appetite in mammals and its levels decrease when fasting and rise during meals. It has been proven to be an appetite suppressant when administered intravenously to pathologically obese people.

Postdoctoral student Philippe Cammisotto is leading the charge for a leptin based, appetite suppressing pill with Dr. Bendayan and Emile Levy, a professor from the Department of Nutrition. “Taken orally, such a pill would provide obese people with the sensation of being full. They would eat less and in turn lose weight,” says Dr. Cammisotto.

“We hope to start animal testing in 2010,” says Bendayan. “The molecule is easy to synthesize and the protocol is ready.”

After decades of building his reputation in fundamental research, Bendayan is happy to collaborate on something more tangible. “Obesity is a big problem in our society, no pun intended,” says Bendayan. “To develop medication to combat obesity would be a great way for our laboratory to contribute to public health.”

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our News Pages.


Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Protein completely restores motor function; scientists hope it will help humans.
People with impaired mobility after a stroke soon may have a therapy that restores limb function long after the injury, if a supplemental protein works as well in humans as it does in paralyzed rats. Two new studies by UC Irvine biologists have found that a protein naturally occurring in humans restores motor function in rats after a stroke. Administered directly to the brain, the protein restores 99 percent of lost movement; if it’s given through the nose, 70 percent of lost movement is regained. Untreated rats improve by only 30 percent.

Professor James Fallon, UC Irvine
James Fallon mobilizes existing stem cells,
causing them to proliferate, migrate and
eventually differentiate into new cells
(shown by the red area back left) that
fill in the damaged brain, returning
function to to the stroke victim.
photo: Daniel A. Anderson

“No drugs exist that will help a stroke after a few days. If you have a stroke, you don’t have many treatment options,” said James Fallon, psychiatry & human behavior professor and senior coauthor of the studies. “Now we have evidence there may be therapies that can repair damage to a significant degree long after the stroke. It’s a completely unexpected and remarkable finding, and it’s worth trying in humans.”

The studies, carried out by UCI postdoctoral researcher Magda Guerra-Crespo, chronicle the success of a small protein called transforming growth factor alpha, which plays critical tissue forming and developmental roles in humans from just after conception through birth and into old age.

“TGF alpha has been studied for two decades in other organ systems but never before has been shown to reverse the symptoms of a stroke,” Guerra-Crespo said. No lasting side effects were observed.

In the first study, published in the journal Neuroscience, scientists sought to learn whether TGF alpha administered directly to the brain could help rats with stroke-induced loss of limb function, typically on one side - as is seen in humans.

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our News Page.


Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Regulate trans fats now.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation calls on the federal government to live up to the commitment made two years ago to regulate trans fats in Canada’s food supply, based on Health Canada’s final set of monitoring results released today. “Canada’s trans fat verdict is in,” says Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “This fourth and final round of monitoring has demonstrated that levels of heart clogging trans fats are still far too prevalent in our food.

They can even be found at dangerous levels in foods in children’s hospitals - the very places that are meant to improve the health of our children. Without government intervention, the trend will sadly continue.”

This final set of data focused on small and medium sized restaurants and fast food chains, as well as other institutions such as high schools, CEGEPs, movie theatres, hospitals and universities.

“Once again, the levels of trans fats in baked goods, pastries and cookies, products which are frequently consumed by children, is particularly disturbing,” says Brown.

Fourth round data shows 21 per cent of French fries, 26 per cent of chicken products, 50 per cent of bakery products and 60 per cent of cookies are still made with high levels of trans fats. “Without a clear signal to the market, oil producers will not produce healthy alternatives that can be used in majority of food categories that have remained an issue.”

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our News Page.