High-tech wound treatment
Because of war casualties, accidents, and diabetic
skin ulcers, high-tech wound closure products are the fastest-growing
segment of wound-treatment medicine. The vacuum-assisted closure (VAC)
by San Antonio's Kinetic Concepts is the leader in the field.
Its system uses nonabsorbent foam that is inserted into the wound and
covered by a transparent membrane. Air is sucked out of the area around
the foam with a vacuum, creating "negative pressure," which hastens
healing, prevents infection, and lessens scarring.
system is more expensive than gauze dressings, but speeding up wound
repair brings the overall cost of care down to the same level or lower.
In the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, subsequent amputations were
reduced by more than 60 percent using VAC.
New alzheimer's treatments
Patients with mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer's
disease will soon have drugs that will slow down or reverse progress of
the disease, according to the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda,
Positive test results are expected for the first
new drug, Alzhemed, from Neurochem. If the Food and Drug Administration
fast-tracks approval, the drug could be approved in 2008.
Scientists are confident that one or more of the dozens of
new-generation drugs now in human trials will succeed. They are the
result of 20 years of scientific work on Alzheimer's disease.
One of the most promising is Flurizan from Myriad Genetics. It should
complete testing in the next 18 months.
To find out
about clinical trials being held near you, call (800) 438-4380.
Chemo for kidney cancer
Nexavar is not a cure for kidney cancer and only
lengthens victims' lives by several months, but that time can be
In the U.S., about 19,000 people are
diagnosed with kidney cancer each year and 17,000 die of the disease.
Take a hike, but don't drink the water
The American Journal of Medicine reports that among
long-distance backpackers, diarrhea is the most common illness. Even the
clearest brook or pond can have microorganisms that cause it, such as
giardia and cryptosporidium.
For a short hike, carry
your own water. If you drink water from a stream or pond, boil it and
let it cool first.
More advice on hiking safety can be
found at http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthextra.