January 24, 1994
Media Contact:Michael Purdy
Phone: (410) 955-6680
MEDICAL NEWS TIPS
Listed below are story ideas from The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. To pursue any of these stories, call the contact person listed.
NEW AIDS RESEARCH AIMS TO PROTECT MOTHER AND FETUS
Researchers at Johns Hopkins are recruiting volunteers to participate in a test of an AIDS vaccine in pregnant women infected with HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. 'If the results of this trial are promising, further studies would show if the vaccine prevents transfer of HIV-1 from a pregnant woman to her fetus," says John Lambert, M.D., medical director of the AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Unit at Hopkins and chairperson of the national study that includes five other institutions.
The study is looking for HIV-infected pregnant women between the ages of 16 and 40 who are free of ADDS symptoms, not currently using illegal drugs, and have a CD4 T cell count of at least 400.
"This is an important new strategy in the fight against AIDS," Lambert explains. 'We hope that the study will help us develop a vaccine that can both save mothers and prevent the spread of this virus to a new generation."
Other institutions in the multicenter clinical trial conducted by the AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, include St. Louis University (St. Louis, Mo.), the University of Rochester (N.Y.), University of Washington (Seattle), Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.) and the University of California at San Francisco. To participate in this study, please call 410-955-SAVE.
For more information, call Marc Kusinitz at (410 955-8665).
DYING OF SUDDEN CARDIAC DEATH: A PROBABLE BRAIN LINK
The major killer in stroke patients, says neurologist Stephen Oppenheimer, M.D., is not actually a second stroke. Surprisingly, more than 60 percent of deaths after stroke are related to lethal changes in the normal rhythm of the heart. Oppenheimer has studied the little- known link between what happens in the brain - mostly strokes - and sudden death from heart failure or heart attacks. He's mapped nerve pathways in the brain that connect to the heart and that probably are a key in triggering sudden death. (The same pathways, he believes, are active when people die of fear.) Oppenheimer is an expert at identifying stroke patients who are most prone to a repeat stroke. Now he's studying ways to predict heart death by monitoring changes in heart rate and other variations.
For more information, call Michael Purdy at 955-8725
RESEARCHERS MAP THE PLACE FOR NAMES
It as scientists believe, our humanity is largely a function of our language, then neuroscientists Barry Gordon, M.D., and Ron Lesser, M.D., are teasing out our humanity bit by bit. Using grids of electrodes that Lesser employs to diagnose epilepsy, he and Gordon have mapped parts of patients' brains thought responsible for objects. Because of epilepsy, some patients temporarily lose this ability. By following them as this ability returns, the researchers are getting insights into how the brain lays down language.
For more information, call Michael Purdy at 955-8725.
IMPORTANT HEART TEST NOW AVAILABLE TO IMMOBILE PATIENTS
Scientists at Johns Hopkins are using a "no-stress" stress test to assess the damage caused by a heart attack in elderly, incapacitated and handicapped patients. The new test eliminates the need for patients to exercise on a treadmill or bicycle. "Until now, patients with little or no mobility were not able to benefit from the technology of stress echocardiography," says Joao Tima. M.D. Now, an injectable hormone called dobutamine can force the heart to contract in the same way Mi exercise might he explains.
The test is safe, painless and reliable, and often reduces the need
for more invasive
procedures like catheterizations," says Lima. The dobutamine test offers
results as good as, or better than conventional exercise stress
Echocardiography uses ultrasound waves to create images of the heart as it beats. Scientists compare images of the resting heart with those of the "exercising" heart to find weaknesses in the wall that could signal a heart attack or heart ischemia.
In the future, Lima plans to use the dobutamine stress test to estimate how long muscle will function before a transplant is needed, and to determine how much viable heart muscle remains after a heart attack.
For more information, call Debbie Bangledorf at (410) 223-1731.