Monthly Archives: December 2010

The nonprofit world is stewing over the ban Apple has put on making donations on the iPhone via charity apps.

No one, including Apple, has data on how many nonprofits have created apps for the iPhone. Organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and American Cancer Society have them, but none can be used to make gifts. Prospective donors instead are directed out of a nonprofit’s app and to its Web site, which the organizations say makes the process of contributing more cumbersome.

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Pharmaceutical (drug) and biotech companies are constantly researching and developing new medications to treat medical conditions, and new drugs come on the market frequently. People who have rare diseases or disorders, however, have not had as much research attention in past decades. This is because their numbers are small and therefore the potential market for new drugs to treat them (commonly referred to as “orphan drugs”) is also small. A rare disease occurs in less than 200,000 individuals in the United States, or less than 5 per 10,000 individuals in the European Union. Government regulatory agencies in the United States and the European Union have thus taken steps to reduce this disparity.

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Pemphigus is a term used to describe blistering of the skin caused by binding of antibodies to the surface of the cells of the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. In pemphigus vulgaris, the most common form of pemphigus, there are IgG antibodies that bind to the cell surfaces of epidermis of the skin as well as the epithelium lining mucosal surfaces such as the mouth. As a result, patients develop severe oral ulcerations, and may also have inflammation or erosions of the lining of the eye and eyelids (conjunctiva), the nasal mucosa, or the genital mucosa. Half of the patients also develop blisters or erosions of the skin, often in the head and neck area.

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Our scientific knowledge of pemphigus has dramatically progressed in recent years. However, despite the availability of various therapeutic options for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, only a few multicenter controlled trials have helped to define effective therapies in pemphigus. A major obstacle in comparing therapeutic outcomes between centers is the lack of generally accepted definitions and measurements for the clinical evaluation of pemphigus patients. Common terms and endpoints of pemphigus are needed so that experts in the field can accurately measure and assess disease extent, activity, severity, and therapeutic response, and thus facilitate and

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advance clinical trials This consensus statement from the International Pemphigus Committee represents two years of collaborative efforts to attain mutually acceptable common definitions for pemphigus. These should assist in development of consistent reporting of outcomes in future studies.

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The risk of death in patients with pemphigus
vulgaris has been substantially reduced by treat-
ment with systemic corticosteroids.5 Current therapy consists of high doses of corticosteroids plus immunosuppressive agents.6 This combination frequently causes long-term immunosuppression, the consequences of which are now the most
common cause of death in patients with pemphigus vulgaris.7 Patients who do not have a response to corticosteroids plus immunosuppressive agents
or who

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have severe side effects from this therapy have been successfully treated with intravenous immune globulin,8,9 which can be used as monotherapy and can produce long-term remissions.

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Pemphigus VulgarisCurrently, available technologies are limited in their power to characterize autoreactive T cells, which are necessary for the generation of autoantibodies in PV and the development of disease. The research team of the Department of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University is developing two newly emerging technologies to identify, enumerate, and analyze autoreactive T cells.  They are undertaking fine specificity characterization of autoreactive T cell populations and precise mapping of T cell epitopes responsible for disease induction and progression.  These studies are expected to illuminate novel and specific targets for immunoprevention and therapy.

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“This new science is forcing the medical community to take more seriously the popular notions of the mind-body connection,” says Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program at the National Institute of Mental Health. In response to stressful events, our bodies pump out hormones. These hormones aren’t necessarily harmful and can be very useful, says Dr. Sternberg, author of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions. “The problem is when the stress response goes on for too long,” she says. “That’s when you get sick. Hormones weaken the immune system’s ability to fight disease.”

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