The News – 21 Jan 2015

Overview

  • Women infected with a common stomach bug have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a West Australian research team has found.
  • The Garvan Institute of Medical Research announces the launch of spin-off company Solvanix Pty Ltd, set up to commercialise a novel technology that will improve the stability of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.
  • A London doctor has gone on trial for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) in the first such case to be prosecuted in Britain.



News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st January 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-20/stomach-ulcer-bacteria-cuts-multiple-sclerosis-risk-wa-study/6026936

Women infected with a common stomach bug have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a West Australian research team has found.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria infects about 50 per cent of the world’s population.

A new survey of 850 people has found women infected with the bacteria were less likely to have MS than women not infected.

The study’s authors think infections like H. pylori could move the balance of the immune system to a less inflammatory state, and as a result the risk of immune sensitivity is reduced, as are the chances of developing autoimmune disorders like MS.

Previous studies have investigated the possibility of a link between H. pylori and MS, but used relatively small numbers of people and produced inconsistent results.

The WA study was the largest of its kind and was conducted using DNA from a database of more than 80 per cent of the state’s registered MS sufferers, which was created 18 years ago.

Research leader clinical Professor Allan Kermode said the results were encouraging.

Researchers hope the discovery could pave the way for creating drugs that imitate the effect of the bacteria and prevent MS from developing.
The MS Society of WA has praised the efforts of the West Australian team.

The research was published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/start-up-company-to-commercialise-antibody-stabilisation-technology

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research announces the launch of spin-off company Solvanix Pty Ltd, set up to commercialise a novel technology that will improve the stability of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. 

Solvanix has secured a $2 million commitment from Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), and will be based at Garvan.

Developed by Garvan scientists, the new technology answers a significant need within the pharmaceutical industry – how to create fully human antibodies that are also stable and resistant to ‘aggregation’ or ‘stickiness’.



When antibodies are used as therapeutic drugs, they are purified, concentrated and stored. These unnatural conditions tend to make them stick to one another or become entangled in clusters. …The new technology vastly improves antibody stability by reducing stickiness. It does this by altering specific regions of the antibody, without compromising its ‘human’ quality – and therefore minimising adverse immune reactions in patients.



Associate Professor Daniel Christ, founder and CSO of Solvanix, and Head of the Antibody Therapeutics Laboratory at Garvan, commented that by the time a candidate molecule goes into early manufacturing or clinical studies, millions of dollars will already have been invested.


“At present, vast sums of money are being wasted because up to 30-50% of drugs in development have stability issues, and many products are ultimately failing,” he said.

“As you can imagine, this failure rate considerably increases drug development costs. Our new technology will simply eliminate stability issues and associated costs.”

Supported by the Commonwealth and State Governments, the MRCF provides funding to help promising research discoveries become profitable innovations. 



http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-20/uk-holds-first-trial-over-female-genital-mutilation/6026808

A London doctor has gone on trial for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) in the first such case to be prosecuted in Britain.
Dhanuson Dharmasena, 32, is accused of performing an FGM procedure on a woman who gave birth at his hospital in 2012 following damage caused by labour.

Another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, who translated for the woman in hospital, is accused of encouraging an offence of FGM, and of aiding and abetting Dharmasena.

The woman, who was 24 at the time, first underwent FGM at the age of six in Somalia.

Dharmasena carried out the procedure again when her stitches tore during childbirth.

“It is that stitching back together by Dr Dharmasena, and Mr Mohamed’s insistence or encouragement, which the prosecution says is an offence under the act,” prosecutor Kate Bex told the court.

She said the procedure was “against the policy of his employer” – Whittington Hospital in north London – and that it was not “medically necessary”.
Dharmasena denied the charge and has previously said the procedure may have been “medically justified”.

FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985 but no-one has ever been prosecuted.

Anti-FGM legislation was extended in 2003 to make it an offence for British nationals or permanent residents to carry out FGM abroad or seek FGM abroad, even where it is legal.

The maximum penalty is 14 years in jail.

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