Sept. 2, 2015


Blocking a gene reduces fat. By blocking the expression of a certain gene in patients, University of Montreal researchers have contributed to the demonstration of great decreases in the concentration of triglycerides in their blood, even in severe forms of hypertriglyceridemia and regardless of the base values or the treatment the patient usually receives. The gene in question codes for the apoC-III protein.

The results demonstrate apoC-III’s important contribution to the complex mechanisms by which our bodies manage blood fat. “Decoding mechanisms opens the door to precise, individual interventions for the prevention of residual risk associated with the various causes of severe hypertriglyceridemia,” explains Daniel Gaudet, MD, PhD, first author of the study. “The results of these studies enable the acceleration of research targeting better understanding and control of the risk trajectory associated with various forms of severe hypertriglyceridemia.” The research was published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Trans fats, but not saturated fats, linked to greater risk of death and heart disease. A study led by researchers at McMaster University has found that trans fats are associated with greater risk of death and coronary heart disease, but saturated fats are not associated with an an increased risk of death, heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes. The findings were published recently by the British Medical Journal. Guidelines currently recommend that saturated fats be limited to less than 10 percent, and trans fats to less than one percent of energy, to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.

The research team analyzed the results of 50 observational studies assessing the association between saturated and/or trans fats and health outcomes in adults. They found no clear association between higher intake of saturated fats and death for any reason—coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes. However, consumption of industrial trans fats was associated with a 34 percent increase in death for any reason, a 28 percent increased risk of CHD mortality, and a 21 percent increase in the risk of CHD.

Infectious Disease

Antibody found that fights MERS coronavirus. An international team of researchers has found a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) neutralizing antibody—a discovery that could lead to a treatment for people infected with the virus. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes the study they undertook and why they believe what they found might lead to both prevention and treatment for the often deadly disease.

The researchers studied the immune response of a 49-year-old male patient suffering from the condition, but whose immune system finally prevailed over it. In so doing, they were able to locate the specific antibody that they believe was instrumental in saving the man’s life. Known as LCA60, it binds to the virus when it encounters it, preventing the virus from binding to CD26 receptor cells.

Researchers tested the antibody in mice (by both injection and inhalation) and found that doing so caused a steep reduction in the number of virus cells in the lungs. Notably, they found that they got nearly the same results whether the mice were given the antibody before or after they were infected. This suggests it might be possible to inject the antibody into people at risk to help them fight off the disease and also to use it as a treatment for those that already have it.

Large percentage of youth with HIV may lack immunity to measles, mumps, rubella. Between one-third and one-half of individuals in the U.S. who were infected with HIV around the time of birth may not have sufficient immunity to ward off measles, mumps, and rubella—even though they may have been vaccinated against these diseases. This estimate is based on a study of more than 600 children and youth exposed to HIV in the womb.

The researchers tested samples from 428 children who became infected with HIV around the time of birth. They referred to these individuals as the PHIV (perinatally HIV-infected) group. The study investigators also tested serum from 221 children whose mothers had HIV, but who did not become infected—the HIV-exposed, uninfected (HEU) group. Many of the PHIV children were born before 1996, when the modern anti-HIV regimen, combined antiretroviral therapy, came into widespread use. Roughly 93 percent of both groups had received at least the recommended two doses of MMR, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

On average, the PHIV children were much less likely to have protective levels of antibodies against measles, mumps, and rubella than did the HEU group. PHIV children who started combined antiretroviral therapy before receiving their MMR vaccine doses were more likely to have protective levels of antibodies against all three diseases, especially if they had higher levels of CD4+ cells at the time. Tests of CD4+ levels are an important  indicator of how well the immune system is functioning.


Urban ERs see high rates of hepatitis C infection. An urban emergency department that set up a hepatitis C testing protocol saw high rates of infection among intravenous drug users and Baby Boomers, with three-quarters of those testing positive unaware they were infected. The results of a screening and diagnostic testing program for hepatitis C were reported online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers tested 10 percent of emergency department patients for hepatitis C virus (HCV), mostly focusing testing on those considered high-risk, such as intravenous drug users, Baby Boomers, and patients with unspecified liver disease. Of patients tested, 10.3 percent tested positive for HCV, with 70 percent of those confirmed as chronically infected. Only 24 percent of patients who tested positive for the virus had prior knowledge of HCV infection.

Hepatitis C virus is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the U.S., affecting an estimated three million people, and is a leading cause of end-stage liver disease, liver cancer and liver transplants. Baby Boomers account for 75 percent of people living with HCV infection, and as many as 1.75 million of them do not know they are infected.


MLO’s July “Product Focus” on Analyzers placed the wrong image adjacent to Streck’s  product description. Here is the item with the correct photo:

Streck’s ESR-Auto Plus
Streck’s ESR-Auto Plus, an automated sed-rate analyzer, accurately and precisely measures the sedimentation rate of erythrocytes in 30 minutes. The ESR-Auto Plus features >98 percent correlation to Modified Westergren Method; 10-sample capacity and random access for patient testing at user convenience; 15-minute prediction mode; built-in printer for walk-away capability; and barcode scanner to prevent data transcription errors. The ESR-Auto Plus incorporates a data log file system which stores up to 100 runs of QC data per level and up to 500 patient results. Data can be downloaded to a LIS.