The Health News – 7 June 2016

Overview:
• The team from Garvan Institute’s Genomics and Epigenetics Division, looked in detail at how the genome’s structural organisation differs between cancerous and normal cells – and how this, in turn, influences epigenetic-related changes in gene expression that can drive cancer. Their study has just been published in the leading journal Genome Research.

• Queensland Health says there is no link between two possible Zika cases in the Whitsundays and a confirmed case in Mackay,in the state’s north. Two women, from Bowen and Cannonvale, had been travelling in Bali with another person, from Gordonvale in the far north, who is confirmed to have the virus.

• Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia today found at least eight deaths occurred because of incorrect dosages of the medication, methotrexate – a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Researcher Rose Cairns, from the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre, said problems arose because unlike many medications that are taken at least once a day, methotrexate should only be taken once a week.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  7nth of June 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.garvan.org.au/a-3d-view-of-the-cancer-genome

Line up the genome of a cancer cell and a normal cell, and it is clear that the differences are legion. From point mutations to deletions, large-scale rearrangements and epigenetic alterations (changes to the chemical ‘decoration’ of DNA and its associated proteins), it is well understood that the genomes of cancer cells contain many changes, and that these drive cancer progression.

What is less clear is how this happens. Indeed, we understand little about how changes in the cancer genome and epigenome relate to which genes are switched on and off in cancer.  

Now, researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have shown, for the first time, that in cancer the three-dimensional (3D) structural organisation of the genome is altered. The team, from Garvan’s Genomics and Epigenetics Division, looked in detail at how the genome’s structural organisation differs between cancerous and normal cells – and how this, in turn, influences epigenetic-related changes in gene expression that can drive cancer. Their study has just been published in the leading journal Genome Research.

For the researchers, one surprise was the high level of organisation of the cancer genome.

“Because there are so many DNA alterations in cancer, we might have expected the cancer genome to be relatively disorganised,” says Professor Susan Clark FAA, who heads Garvan’s Genomics and Epigenetics Division and led the study.

“Instead, we have shown that the genomes in these cancer cells have clearly defined domains (stretches of DNA that assemble together into a 3D structure), just as a non-cancerous genome does. However, the big change is that the cancer genomes have smaller domains, and more of them.

Drs Phillippa Taberlay and Joanna Achinger-Kawecka, co-first authors in this study, went on to look, within each domain, at ‘differential interactions’ – changes in which sequences of DNA in the domain interact with each other – in normal and cancer cells. They found evidence of large-scale reorganisation within cancer genome domains, with over 2000 cancer-specific ‘differential interactions’ detected in each of the cancer cell lines studied.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/two-whitsundays-women-tested-for-zika-virus/7480120

Queensland Health says there is no link between two possible Zika cases in the Whitsundays and a confirmed case in Mackay,in the state’s north.

Two women, from Bowen and Cannonvale, had been travelling in Bali with another person, from Gordonvale in the far north, who is confirmed to have the virus.

Thee director of Public Health, Dr Steven Donohue, said the women will undergo further testing this week to determine if they also have the virus.

Public Health teams have already started work in the Cannonvale area, with weekend inspections finding a number of mosquitoes at known breeding sites.

It is not clear if they are the aedes aegypti species, which can carry Zika.

Dr Donohue said the risk of the species being in the region was low, with the last dengue outbreak recorded more than 20 years ago.

He said there was no link between the possible cases in Whitsundays and the confirmed case in South Mackay last week.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/methotrexate-linked-to-eight-deaths-since-2000-research-says/7479566?section=health

A drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease has been linked to at least eight deaths in Australia since 2000.

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia today found those deaths occurred because of incorrect dosages of the medication, methotrexate.

It also found an increasing number of Australians were accidentally overdosing on the drug.

Researcher Rose Cairns, from the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre, said problems arose because unlike many medications that are taken at least once a day, methotrexate should only be taken once a week.

“What we are seeing is people taking methotrexate more frequently than prescribed so they’re taking it on consecutive days, which, if taken on three days in a row, can lead to life-threatening toxicity and even death,” she said.

“A lot of the cases were just from confusion … it can be easily mistaken for other medication. It’s a small tablet, it looks like a lot of other medications that people are taking, and meant to be taking daily.

“But we’re also seeing some errors by doctors and pharmacists as well.”

The researchers have recommended a number of changes including reducing the pack size from 50 tablets to about four, manufacturing the tablet in a distinct colour and implementing clearer labelling.

Dr Cairns said the changes were important because the use of methotrexate was likely to continue increasing as Australia’s population ages.

“We believe that methotrexate use will go up because it is quite an effective drug. That’s why we think these changes need to be made to prevent these errors from happening in the future because they can be deadly,” she said.

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