Cellular Transport and the Nobel Prize for Medicine

nobel medal in medicine

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced yesterday [1]. The prize was awarded to three U.S. scientists for their work on how the cell coordinates its transport system to shuttle proteins and other molecules from one location to another.

The prize of 8-million-Swedish-krona ($1.2-million USD) was divided evenly to Randy W. Schekman, age 65, at the University of California at Berkeley; James E. Rothman, age 63, at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; and Thomas C. S├╝dhof, age 58, at Stanford University, for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in cells.

New Go4Life Campaign Focuses on Fitness for Older Adults


Being physically active is vital to maintaining health and independence as we age, and a new federal campaign for people 50 and older will help them to get active and keep going. Introduced today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Go4Life campaign encourages sedentary older adults to reap health benefits by making physical activity part of their daily lives. Only 25 percent of people aged 65-74 say they engage in regular physical activity.


Glucosamine and Chondroitin Found to be Ineffective for Relief of Arthritis Pain

For over a decade, chondroitin and glucosamine have been recommended in guidelines, prescribed by general practitioners and rheumatologists, and used by patients as over-the-counter medications to modify the clinical and radiological course of arthritis. Nevertheless, a recent meta-analysis in the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ) measuring pain intensity and joint inflammation in over 3,800 patients concludes that chondroitin, glucosamine and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space [1].

Knee cartilage

Cartilage is an elastic, fibrous connective tissue found in many areas of the human body, including the joints between bones, the elbow, the knee and the ankle. Glucosamine and chondroitin are key structural components in cartilage and are frequently prescribed to reduce joint pain and slow the progression of the disease. It has been thought that oral administration of these compounds compensates for the loss of cartilage in damaged joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin are partially absorbed in the intestine and several studies suggest that at least some of what was ingested can reach the joints. Nevertheless, the recent study, not a clinical trial itself, but a study of studies (i.e. a meta-analysis), compared glucosamine hydrochloride, glucosamine sulphate, and/or chondroitin with placebos and found that none reduced pain intensity or changed the width of joint space (i.e. reduction of inflammation) [1].

Patient’s Whole Genome Reveals Risk of Diseases and Adverse Drug Responses

Scientists at Stanford and Harvard Universities collaborated to assess the clinical usefulness of analyzing a patient’s full genome for disease risks and unusual drug responses. The work brings closer to reality the concept that whole-genome sequencing might one day play a clinical role.

The analysis, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears in the May 1, 2010 issue of Lancet.

The authors evaluated the entire genome of a 40-year old man and compared it to several databases of disease-related gene variants. They also factored in the patient’s medical and family history and statistical disease risks. As part of the work, the researchers provided the patient with genetic counseling and clinical tests relevant to his family history.

The genome analysis revealed variants associated with diseases in the man’s family (osteoarthritis, vascular disease and early sudden death). It also uncovered variants linked to conditions not in his family (iron overload and thyroid and parathyroid diseases). Some variants suggested that he might have unusual responses to certain heart medications, which is meaningful in light of his risk for cardiovascular disorders.

Health Highlights – September 8th, 2009

Health Highlights is a biweekly summary of particularly interesting articles from credible sources of health and medical information that we follow & read. For a complete list of recommeded sources, see our links page.

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