Health Scan: HU-developed material prevents adhesions after surgery

The formation of adhesions after cardiac surgery is of special concern, because they may affect cardiac function.

surgery 88 (photo credit: )
surgery 88
(photo credit: )
A material aimed at preventing scar tissue after surgery that was developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in pediatric cardiac surgery. The product was invented by Prof. Daniel Cohn, who used novel, customized biodegradable polymers for the prevention of such adhesions. SyntheMed Inc. of Iselin, New Jersey received the technology from Yissum, HU's technology transfer company of the Hebrew University, and has now obtained FDA pre-market approval for the first product, which has been named REPEL-CV adhesion barrier, for use in patients 21 and younger who are likely to need secondary open-heart surgery. The formation of adhesions after cardiac surgery is of special concern, because they may affect cardiac function. Furthermore, in the frequent cases where repeat operations are required, adhesions obscure cardiac landmarks, making the procedure potentially life-threatening to the patient due to inadvertent vascular or cardiac injury. In the US, there are 350,000 to 400,000 children with congenital cardiac abnormalities. Many young patients must undergo multiple surgeries before their defect is corrected, while other children require additional operations as they grow. The REPEL-CV adhesion barrier provides surgeons with another tool to help reduce complications. FDA approval followed the OK of the European and Canadian authorities. Cohn's work on polymers was the reason for his receipt of a Kaye Award for Innovation, which is given annually to encourage HU faculty, staff and students to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential. "I'm excited that the process that started several years ago in our laboratory at the institute of chemistry with the design and synthesis of a family of biodegradable polymers was recently approved by the FDA," said Cohn. This biomedical product harnessed the unique properties of a family of custom-made, biodegradable polymers aimed at treating a large, incredibly widespread clinical problem of post-operative adhesions. "Each and every surgery conducted results in post-surgical adhesions, and the polymeric film developed at HU allows us to minimize them," he continued. STAYING UP LATE RAISES DIABETES RISK American researchers have discovered another reason to get enough sleep. They found that people who regularly get fewer than six hours a night are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. UPI reported from an American Heart Association meeting on the University of Buffalo team who found that the sleep-deprived are 4.5 times more likely to have elevated levels of blood sugar than those who get six to eight hours of sleep a night. Impaired fasting glucose - a reading higher than 100 - is known as pre-diabetes, a precursor to type 2 diabetes," lead author Lisa Rafalson said in a release. "In fact, about 25 percent of people who have impaired fasting glucose will at some point develop type 2 diabetes, which is associated with many complications, including heart disease and premature death." HPV VACCINATION URGED FOR YOUTH The Israel Clinical Pediatrics Society has issued a recommendation that teenage girls and women undergo vaccinations against human papilloma virus (HPV) before they first have sex to protect them from cervical cancer. The vaccine is sold in Israel, but has not been included in the Health Ministry's vaccination basket because of the expense and the ministry's belief that the cancer is relatively rare. In some countries, the vaccine against the most common strains of papilloma virus is given routinely not only to girls but also to boys to prevent them from spreading it. Around the world, nearly 500,000 women have cervical cancer, and each year half of them are killed by it. The vaccine was developed by genetic engineering without the virus's actual genetic material, but it produces antibodies to HPV that prevent it from attaching itself to cells. There are currently two commercial vaccines, Glaxo's Cerverix and Merck's Gardasil, which involves three injections into the arm or thigh. AVOIDING INSULIN NEEDLES Type II diabetics who refuse to take insulin because they fear syringes have hope with the marketing of a new insulin "pen" that works without a painful needle. Dr. Julio Weinstein, director of the diabetes clinic at Wolfson Medical Center and outgoing head of the Israel Diabetes Society said recently that there are 50,000 such diabetics (out of the 500,000 in the country) who need the hormone instead of pills to control their glucose levels. The pen, imported and marketed in Israel by the Medical Market Bridge company, costs NIS 2,450, with NIS 240 of disposable equipment needed per month. The new SQ-PEN is suitable for all types of insulin and diabetes patients, including type I (an autoimmune disease that develops in children and youth, who cannot live without insulin) and gestational diabetes (during pregnancy). It is held to the skin and a "trigger" is pressed, forcing insulin through and deep enough to be effective. Information can be obtained at or by calling 1-700-508-388. SAVE YOUR PET FROM SMOKE Although smoking is universally known to endanger humans, the average smoker would rather stop smoking to protect his pet dog or cat than their own health, according to a recent article in Tobacco Control. Evidence has been published that sidestream smoke can be as dangerous for pets as it is for the non-smoking partners of smokers. Pets have a high risk of developing lymph gland, nasal and lung cancers; allergies; eye and skin diseases; and respiratory problems. Research by the American Animal Hospital Association set up an online survey for pet owners in Michigan, asking them about their and their partners' smoking behaviors and what they knew about the effects of secondhand smoke on their pets. Of nearly 3,300 respondents, one in five were smokers and 27% lived with at least one smoker. The average number of cigarettes smoked daily was 13.5 with around half of those smoked at home. Nearly one in three of the smokers said awareness that smoking harmed their pets' health would spur them to give it up. And almost one in 10 (8.7%) said this would prompt them to ask their partners to quit, while around one in seven (14%) said they would tell their partner to smoke outdoors. These figures were even higher among non-smokers, more than 16% of whom said they would ask their partner to quit, while around one in four (24%) said they would tell their partner to smoke outdoors. The authors concluded that public health campaigns targeting smokers would do well to focus on the detrimental impact of secondhand smoke on pets, as American pet owners are clearly a devoted bunch.