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Compendium March 2005 (Vol 27, No 3)

News Bites (March 2005)

by Richard Endris, PhD, J. Hair, PhD, Gary Anderson, BS, Wayne Rose, PhD, Damon Disch, PhD, James Tomlinson

    Homegrown Osteoarthritis Prevention

    By using tissue engineering and biologic stimulation via implantation of a scaffold derived from porcine intestines, researchers from the University of Missouri (MU) have been able to grow back 90% of removed menisci in dogs. Portions of damaged, torn menisci are routinely removed during knee surgery to alleviate pain, but human studies have shown that the amount of arthritis a person develops postoperatively is inversely related to the amount of meniscus left in the knee. James Cook, an MU professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, has conducted this groundbreaking research with the help of DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. (MU News Bureau: MU knee process receives federal ap­proval for human clinical trials. Available at http://munews.missouri.edu/NewsBureauSingleNews. cfm?newsid=2282; accessed January 2005)

    Avian Flu Research Takes Off in United States

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a $5 million grant to the University of Maryland to study avian influenza. It is the largest grant ever given by the USDA to study a single animal disease. Daniel Perez, a virologist and expert on avian influenza, will head the project and work with researchers and extension specialists in 17 states and 10 veterinary schools. In the past several years, avian influenza has cost the US commercial poultry industry millions of dollars. On the public health side, recent human fatalities and cases in Asia and The Netherlands have public health officials concerned about a pandemic much like the influenza pandemic of 1918 that killed more than 600,000 Americans. Perez says the project will include epidemiology, diagnostics, vaccines, and education. Researchers will try to understand, on a molecular basis, how in­fluenza causes disease in terrestrial birds while sparing its natural aquatic avian hosts. (UM Newsdesk: UM to head national avian flu research project. Available at Newsdesk.umd.edu/scitech/release.cfm?ArticleID=1027; accessed January 2005)

    Canine Spinal Injuries: Treatment Gives Humans Hope

    Improved healing of spinal injuries via use of the liquid polymer polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been documented at Purdue University. Researchers compared outcomes of 19 paraplegic dogs treated with PEG injections within 72 hours of injury with 24 historically similar cases in which the patients did not receive PEG. Outcomes were determined by measuring ambulation, pain perception, conscious proprioception, and evoked potentials. PEG was found to be a safe adjunct to traditional management of severe spinal injury. Moreover, recovery was unexpectedly rapid in patients receiving PEG.

    PEG is thought to help damaged nerve cells by sealing and thereby protecting them from further membrane damage. Membrane damage causes cells to lose the ability to conduct electrical impulses. Furthermore, "leaky" damaged cells send a "suicide" message to nearby cells, causing a chain reaction of cell death. (Laverty PH, Leskovar A, Breur GJ, et al: A preliminary study of intravenous surfactants in paraplegic dogs: Polymer therapy in canine clinical SCI. J Neurotrauma 21[12]:1767-1777, 2004)

    NEXT: The Editor's Desk "March Madness"
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