Diabetes Is a Major Cause of Stroke

Mar 01, 2005

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and it is the leading cause of disability. Currently, the number of people expected to have their first stroke is about 400,000 per year, and if current trends persist the number of first time strokes per year by the year 2050 is expected to climb to 1,000,000.

25 Percent of all strokes occur in people under the age of 65, and 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic stroke: the most common type of stroke. Ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage of the flow of blood to the brain (like a heart attack of the brain).

In this study it was found that diabetes is a big risk for stroke in people under the age of 65. It was also found that 37% to 42% of all ischemic strokes are due to the effects of diabetes alone or due to a combination of diabetes with high blood pressure. The study was performed at the Department of Neurology in conjunction with other centers and is published in the February 2005 issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

Feverfew May Change the Way Leukemia is Treated

Parthenolide, an active component of the Feverfew plant may have potent activity against human leukemia, so potent that the National Cancer Institute has put parthenolide on its rapid access program - a fast track for taking promising experimental compounds from the lab to human studies. Feverfew, the parent herb, has been used for centuries to treat migraine patients.

Malignant (cancer causing) stem cells are central to the initiation, growth, and relapse of acute and chronic myelogenous leukemia (AML and CML). Malignant stem cells actually give rise to, or create the active cancerous cells. Leukemia stem cells are rare and distinct and they are an abvious critical target for treatig leukemia. However, to date, very few agents have been shown to directly target leukemia stem cells.

Researchers in the Division of Hematolgy/ Oncology and the Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatrics Disease at the University of Rochester Medical School (and from the Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Kentucky Medical Center) exposed human leukemia cells to parthenolide for 18 hours and the results were breathtaking: the parthenolide killed leukemia stem cells, the cells that give rise to leukemia cancer cells. Whats more, parthenolide robustly killed the leukemia stem cells without harming normal-healthy blood cells. Parthenolide seems to be a potent anti-leukemia agent that is nontoxic.

When the researchers compared parthenolide to the chemotherapeutic drug cytarabine, a drug commonly used to treat leukemia, the parthenolide was better than the chemotherapy. The cytarabine had modest toxicity against the human leukemia cells but had relatively high toxicity to the normal-healthy blood cells. The parthenolide is much more specific to leukemia cells.

Additionally, because the parthenolide worked against leukemia stem cells it got at the heart of the disease where as other treatments for leukemia are like pulling out weeds but leaving the roots intact.

Furthermore, the researchers say the parthenolide may make the cancer cells more sensitive to other cancer-fighting agents. The study is published in the February 1st, 2005 issue of the journal Blood.