Pharmacology

'Natural' health products are all the rage among the segment of the population that doesn't trust science or medicine. But applying the ethical standards of the medical community to people operating outside the medical community can be a big mistake - the majority of herbal products on the market contain ingredients not listed on the label, with most companies substituting cheaper alternatives and using fillers, according to new research.

One product labeled as St. John's wort contained Senna alexandrina, a plant with laxative properties. It's not intended for prolonged use, as it can cause chronic diarrhea and liver damage and negatively interacts with immune cells in the colon.


Observational studies have reported that statins improve outcomes of various infections. Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is the most common infection in the intensive care unit (ICU) and is diagnosed in approximately 8 to 28 percent of ICU patients receiving mechanical ventilation.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia is associated with increased mortality rates and high health care costs. New treatments are needed to improve the outcomes of VAP, according to background information in the article. 


A tuberculosis vaccine developed at McMaster University published phase one clinical study results today.

 Tuberculosis is a serious public health threat. One-third of world's population is infected with the organism that causes tuberculosis. The current vaccine used to prevent it is ineffective and high incidence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is also a problem.


Risky sexual behavior and substance abuse have always orbited HIV but it isn't just shared needles; drugs like cocaine make people engage in lots of other risky behaviors.

The epidemiology of how HIV spreads is well know but relatively little research has been done into how drugs impact the body's defenses against the virus. A new paper examines how cocaine affects a unique population of immune cells called quiescent CD4 T cells, which are resistant to the virus that causes AIDS.

They found that cocaine makes the cells susceptible to infection with HIV, causing both significant infection and new production of the virus. 


Concerns about the negative effects of mercury on fetal development have led to
the US National Research Council
warning against eating too much fish during pregnancy, but those guidelines may need to be reviewed.

New research instead found that fish accounts for only seven percent of mercury levels in the human body. Further, an analysis of 103 food and drink items consumed by 4,484 women during pregnancy found that the 103 items together accounted for less than 17 percent of total mercury levels in the body. 


A little-used class of FDA-approved antidepressants appears potentially effective in combating a particularly deadly form of lung cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.


Earlier studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids,  found in fatty fish such as salmon and in nuts, benefit thinking skills. A new paper in Neurology, based on a study that involved 2,157 women age 65 to 80 who were enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative clinical trials of hormone therapy,  disputes that.

The women were given annual tests of thinking and memory skills for an average of six years. Blood tests were taken to measure the amount of omega-3s in the participants' blood before the start of the study.


Researchers have found reassuring evidence of the H1N1 influenza vaccine's safety during pregnancy. 

The national study, which was launched shortly after the pandemic H1N1 influenza outbreak of 2009 and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), will be summarized in two Vaccine papers.


A team reports that they have shown scientifically what many women report anecdotally: that the breast cancer drug tamoxifen is toxic to cells of the brain and central nervous system, producing mental fogginess similar to "chemo brain."

Although tamoxifen is relatively benign compared to most cancer treatments, it nonetheless produces troubling side effects in a subset of the large number of people who take it. The good news is they also report they've discovered an existing drug compound that appears to counteract or rescue brain cells from the adverse effects of the breast cancer drug.


A team of researchers have published new data that could prove vital for advances in care for women who suffer from recurrent miscarriage.

The recurrent loss of pregnancy through miscarriage causes significant distress to couples, often exacerbated by there being so few treatments available to clinicians.

The search for an effective treatment has been the cause of significant controversy in the field of medical research, centering on the role of natural killer cells (or NK cells) and the ability of steroids to prevent miscarriage.

Scientists have been uncertain about how these NK cells could contribute to a miscarriage and this has raised doubt over their importance in causing pregnancy loss.