photoResearchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that a high intake of the antioxidant vitamin E reduces levels of C-reactive protein, a predictor of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Sridevi Devaraj, assistant professor of pathology, and Dr. Ishwarlal Jialal, professor of pathology and internal medicine, conducted a five-month study on 75 people, some of whom had non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The American Diabetes Association funded the study.

The study subjects were divided into three groups; those with type II diabetes and heart disease, those with type II diabetes without heart disease, and normal controls. Each person in all three groups was given 1,200 IU of natural vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) daily for three months.

The researchers measured each person’s CRP levels before and after supplementation and, two months after the vitamin E therapy ended, found that the supplementation lowered levels of CRP by 30 percent in all three groups. They also found levels of the monocyte interleukiun-6, which elicits the secretion of CRP from the liver, were decreased an average of 50 percent in the groups. Their findings were reported in the Oct. 23 issue of Free Radical Biology & Medicine.

Jialal, the principal investigator, said the study shows that vitamin E lowers CRP significantly in both diabetics and nondiabetics, and that the research suggests that vitamin E could be an additional therapy in the quest to reduce cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that CRP is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people with and without diabetes. Type II diabetes, the most common form of the disease, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and morbidity in type II diabetics.

photoLeica Microsystems hires vice president of sales, marketing
Leica Microsystems Inc. of Bannockburn, Ill., has hired George R. Kennedy as vice president of sales and marketing for Specimen Preparation. Kennedy has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience in medical diagnostics. Most recently he was senior vice president of sales and marketing with Vysis Inc. of Downers Grove, Ill. Kennedy also served as director of sales and marketing at Difco Laboratories.

photoBill to improve patient access to life-saving medical technology passes House, moves on to Senate
On October 26, the House of Representatives passed the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the Act will help eliminate the long delays seniors and disabled Americans face gaining access to new, lifesaving and life-improving medical technologies.

“This bill will help millions of Medicare patients who need access to innovative medical treatments and diagnostic tests, said AdvaMed President Pamela G. Bailey.

AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, (formerly HIMA or Health Industry Manufacturers Association) which represents more than 800 manufacturers of medical devices, diagnostic products and medical information systems, strongly supports the legislation. Its members produce nearly 90 percent of the $68 billion healthcare technology products consumed in the United States annually.

The Medicare package passed by the House includes key provisions of the Medicare Patient Access to Technology Act (H.R. 4395), which will reduce delays of 15 months to five years in the amount of time it takes Medicare to add new, FDA-approved technologies to the program. It also includes several sections of the Medicare Appeals Act (H.R. 2356) and a provision to improve the outpatient “pass through” program for new technology.

H.R. 4395 was sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Rep. Karen Thurman (D-FL). Rep. William Thomas (R-CA) gave strong support to H.R. 2356 and other

patient access reforms.

The legislation includes provisions that will: create new payment and coding mechanisms to improve access to new hospital inpatient technologies; establish categories for innovative medical devices under the new hospital outpatient payment system; improve Medicare’s procedures for making coding and payment decisions for breakthrough diagnostic tests; retain the use of local (Level III) procedure codes; require Medicare to issue annual reports to Congress on how long it takes to make coverage, coding and payment decisions; and strengthen senior’s right to appeal a non-coverage decision for a new medical technology.

photoTwo new vice presidents named at Medical Analysis Systems
Medical Analysis Systems of Camarillo, Calif., has promoted Barry Rhodes to vice president of International Sales, and Darwin Richardson, Jr., has been appointed to vice president of Quality and Regulatory.

Rhodes assumes the new role from his current position as director of European sales. Rhodes’ expanded responsibilities will include developing and implementing the sales strategy for MAS’s worldwide clinical diagnostics business. Prior to joining MAS, Rhodes was the Northern European sales manager for BioRad International. He also has been the director of sales for Biostat, the UK distributor for MAS and was the U.S. national sales manager for American Monitor for more than 10 years.

MAS also has appointed Darwin Richardson, Jr., to vice president of Quality and Regulatory. Richardson takes over the role from Scot Kinghorn, who was recently promoted to vice president of operations. In his new position, Richardson will oversee all aspects of quality assurance and regulatory affairs, and ensure compliance for MAS’ worldwide business. He will report directly to company president Marty Solberg.

Richardson returns to MAS after working at Alpha Therapeutic Corp., where he was associate director of the Quality Assurance Technical Group. Prior to his employment at Alpha, Richardson was a project manager for the research and development department at MAS, and a research associate at the ECS division of Bio-Rad Laboratories.

Report links Multiple Sclerosis to chlamydia bacterium
The bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae, a common cause of walk-in pneumoniae, is found in the nervous systems of the majority of patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a report presented at the American Neurological Association’s annual meeting in October.

Using more sensitive methods than those previously employed to address this question, researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany found signs of the bacterium in 66 percent of MS patients, versus 21 percent of patients suffering from other neurological illnesses.

Armin Grau, MD, senior author of the report, said if these results can be confirmed by others and if further evidence can be collected it would help confirm an association between c. pneumoniae and MS. Clinical trials that attempt to treat MS patients with antibiotics effective against C. pneumoniae are needed.

Several recent studies have produced conflicting evidence about the presence of C. pneumoniae bacterium in the nervous systems of MS patients, and researchers have debated whether the various assays used were correctly applied or sensitive enough. In this study, Grau and his team used polymerase chain reaction to look for evidence that C. pneumoniae genes were present in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients.

They found that 12 of 18 MS patients, but four of 19 patients with other neurological diseases, tested positive for the presence of C. pneumoniae. The same researchers are in the process of another study involving larger groups of patients, which attempts to replicate the data with other methods of detection.

In using patients with other neurological diseases as the controls, the researchers provided evidence to counteract the idea that people with any neurological disease, whose immune systems may be compromised, are more likely to have the bacterium in their nervous systems.