Program 633,
  June 13, 2000

 

A. A Breakthrough In Multiple Sclerosis Research
B. A Genetic Discovery May Help Mend Broken Bones
C. Are Women More Afraid Of Invasive Heart Testing?
D. A Possible Cause For Loose Hip Replacements
E. The Facts About Pulmonary Fibrosis


A. A Breakthrough In Multiple Sclerosis Research

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers have discovered the body's own antibodies play a major role in the development of multiple sclerosis. Previously the immune system's killer T-cells were thought to be the main culprit. But Dr. Claude Genain, a neurology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, literally caught antibodies in the act of destroying the myelin sheath, which protects vital nerve fibers of the spinal cord and brain.

Genain: That has never been shown before in human MS The implications of this are by combining the previous therapies that are efficient against T cells and some therapies that are efficient against antibodies, we will most likely end up with a much more efficient treatment for the disease.

Narrator: Genain hopes to develop molecules that mimic antibodies that bind to myelin.

Genain: But do not have their detrimental effect on the myelin sheath and we are hoping that these molecules will be able to compete with antibodies to prevent the antibodies to create the damage.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.


B. A Genetic Discovery May Help Mend Broken Bones

Narrator: This is Science Today. Two genes crucial to fetal bone development have been found to resurface later to help mend broken bones. This discovery may lead to new treatments for hard-to-heal fractures. Dr. Theodore Miclau, a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco explains.

Miclau: Somewhere between five and ten percent of all fractures have some difficulty healing and currently people are frustrated even during normal bone healing when it takes longer. What these techniques that might evolve out of this type of research would allow not only bones to heal more reliably but also for us to be able to control better how rapidly they heal.

Narrator: But there's still lots of work to be done.

Miclau: We know that these genes are expressed during bone repair but we don't know how important they are during bone repair and there are several models that we're currently working on to take this to the next level to find out what their significance is in adult bone formation.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.


C. Are Women More Afraid Of Invasive Heart Testing?

Narrator: This is Science Today. Women with heart disease are just as willing as men to undergo invasive cardiac testing procedures. But Dr. Rita Redberg, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco says women receive less aggressive treatment.

Redberg: One of the reasons that has been suggested that women undergo invasive testing less than men is that perhaps women are refusing invasive testing,

Narrator: But Redberg conducted a study recently which found that's definitely not the case.

Redberg: Actually, women were slightly more likely than men to agree to invasive testing and then we adjusted for age and sociodemographic factors and women and men were equally willing to undergo invasive testing. This suggests that there must be another explanation for why women are not as likely to be referred. What we hope with studies like this is that it will increase awareness among patients and physicians that women should be offered tests at the same rate as men.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.


D. A Possible Cause For Loose Hip Replacements

Narrator: This is Science Today. Total hip replacements were initially introduced in the Sixties after an orthopedic surgeon used some dental cement to successfully bond metal to bone. These acrylic cements are still used today, but Michael Ries, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco recently found they biodegrade over time.

Ries: We don't exactly know what the process is, so our first step was to identify how it breaks down and if it breaks down and to what degree this occurs.

Narrator: Overall, cemented hip replacements are very successful, but there are cases of loosening which may be caused by cement degradation.

Ries: This should not be startling information or something to make people panic or necessarily want to have an uncemented hip prosthesis. This information should also help us identify factors which could extend the longevity of total hip replacements - cemented ones - and improve the type of cement we use in hip replacements.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.


E. The Facts About Pulmonary Fibrosis

Narrator: This is Science Today. Each year, pulmonary fibrosis causes more than five thousand Americans to die of suffocation. This happens after progressive scarring and inflammation in the lungs prevent oxygen from getting into the bloodstream. Dr. Dean Sheppard, of the University of California, San Francisco says pulmonary fibrosis affects over one hundred thousand people nationwide.

Sheppard: It's actually not really one disease - it's the end effect of a number of different diseases, so actually there are probably over a hundred different individual causes of pulmonary fibrosis.

Narrator: One of the more common causes is a disease called sarcoidosis, which is of unknown origin, but usually targets the lungs.

Sheppard: There are also people who have what are called rheumatologic diseases - one's called lupus, another's called scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can lead to pulmonary fibrosis and then one of the largest categories is something we call idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which means we don't know what causes it.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

 

 

 

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