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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 2 | Feb. 3, 2005

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in January 2005

Compiled by Brian Lin

Nose-to-Spine Transplants Hold Promise

UBC neuroscientist Jane Roskams has found that when stem cells derived from noses of adult rats and mice are grown in culture and transplanted into the damaged spinal cords of rodents, those injuries are repaired and the nerves regenerated.

“When it comes to the nervous system, a rat is not a human. So we have to have safety and efficacy studies in animals first, and next there will be primate studies,” Roskams told The Washington Times.

Roskams warns that much more research needs to be done and ads on the Internet for unproven nose-to-spine transplants available in Portugal and China have not been proven to be safe.

“People are desperate. They hear the hype and the hope, and they go for it ... but we have to prove first that these procedures are safe. We have to do it right,” Roskams said.

Lending a Hand to Tsunami Survivors

UBC clinical professor Graham Reid is volunteering with Relief International in Ullai, Sri Lanka.

Reid told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the community appears to have been simply ignored for a week or so because the tsunami took out the bridge that connected it to the main road, making it too difficult to reach.

Canadian and Sri Lankan military personnel are now running small boats to ferry people across the lagoon that separates Ullai from the main road.

UBC forensic identification expert David Sweet says dental records will likely be the first choice for identifying victims of the tsunami tragedy because they are the fastest and least expensive method.

“You’d want to start with dental records because they’re quick and they’re very reliable,” Sweet told Canadian Press. “They are also relatively inexpensive compared with DNA samples.

“The comparisons can be done with X-rays or written records or any other dental information available.”

No Mixing Warfarin and Celebrex

A new study by the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences has found that older patients taking the blood-thinner warfarin have an elevated risk of potentially deadly stomach bleeding if they also take common anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis such as ibuprofen and Naproxen.

Celebrex, Bextra and others Cox-2 inhibitors also pose a risk.

UBC clinical pharmacologist and internist Jim Wright told Canadian Press that the study has major implications because a lot of physicians would likely choose Cox-2s for arthritis patients already on warfarin, believing the drugs have a lower risk than NSAIDs.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that these drugs are probably more harmful than beneficial compared to NSAIDs ... the evidence we have right now suggests we shouldn’t use them.”

Genetic Tests could Save Children

UBC researchers Michael Hayden and Bruce Carleton are working to reduce adverse drug reactions that kill almost 30,000 North American children every year by developing quick genetic tests that can predict which children are slow and fast metabolizers.

The $8.4-million project involves pediatric centres across Canada, which are tracking bad reactions and collecting DNA and plasma samples from affected youngsters.

“We hope to have some of these things ready for the clinic within five years, and we think we can live up to that,” Hayden told CanWest News Service.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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