MEDICAL NEWS TIPS

September 20, 1994
Media Contact: To pursue any of these stories, call the contact person listed
E-mail: Dbangle@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

Listed below are story ideas from The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
NON-SURGICAL METHODS OFTEN STAMP OUT FOOT PAIN

Patients need to have patience, but with a little time doctors can use non- surgical methods to produce a 95 percent cure rate among sufferers of a painful foot syndrome. The syndrome is produced by inflammations or micro-tears that develop in the plantar fascia, a tough layer of skin stretching across the interior of the bottom of the foot. The tears and inflammations occur at the point where the plantar fascia joins the heel bone, making pressure on the heel painful.

According to James Michelson, M.D., a year of medication, exercise, injections, and possibly special splints can produce a 95 percent cure rate among sufferers of this problem. For the remaining 5 percent, doctors will alleviate pain with standard surgical methods, cutting the link between the plantar fascia and the heel bone.

For media inquiries only, call Michael Purdy at (410) 955-8725.

NEW DRUG TREATMENT FOR DIABETES BEING TESTED

A researcher at Johns Hopkins is recruiting people to test a drug that may help those with adult onset diabetes avoid the extreme rise and fall in blood sugar and insulin levels that often occur after meals. The drug slows digestion of carbohydrates in the small intestine so that they enter the bloodstream gradually, rather than all at once, says Adrian Dobs, M.D., associate professor of medicine.

African American diabetics who are over 30 years old and who are not taking insulin are eligible for the study. "Diabetes is more prevalent among African- Americans than among whites, and they also have more complications," says Dobs. "This drug could help prevent those side effects, with no major complications."

Diabetics have difficulty converting carbohydrates-sugars and starches-into energy. Maintaining stable blood sugar and insulin levels can protect diabetics from such complications as heart disease, vision loss, gangrene and kidney disease, she says.

For media inquiries only, call Debbie Bangledorf at (410) 223-1731.


HOPKINS TEAM RECOMMENDS CHANGE IN TREATING OVARIAN TUMORS

Young women with early or stage I ovarian tumors of low malignant potential (TLMP) are safe surgeons remove only the tumor, sparing the other ovary and protecting fertility, according to experts at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Traditionally, such tumors are treated aggressively with removal of both ovaries, in addition to the uterus, plus chemotherapy or radiation therapy, because doctors assumed they would develop into ovarian cancer. But at a recent National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference, experts agreed with a recommendation by Hopkins gynecologic pathologist Cornelia L. Trimble, M.D., that TLMP diagnosed early can be treated more conservatively.

For media inquiries only, call Gary Stephenson at (410) 955-5384.

AN ASPIRIN A DAY MAY NOT BE ENOUGH

Cardiologists routinely prescribe a small daily dose of aspirin to patients with a history of coronary artery disease. The aspirin, they say, helps retard the formation of clots that can block blood supplies to the heart, brain and other organs.

But aspirin may be getting some help especially for certain high-risk patients, say Johns Hopkins researchers. They are studying stronger agents to keep platelets from sticking together and causing blockages.

"These antiplatelet compounds are still being tested, but show great promise," says Pascal Goldschmidt-Clermont, co-director of the new Johns Hopkins Thrombosis Center.

In a recent study, he and others found that a small compound called "integrelin" works at the surface of platelets to stop them from clumping. "We believe integrelin mimics fibrinogen, a substance that sticks platelets together," says Goldschmidt. "It can wiggle itself onto the places where fibrinogen normally sits, taking up space where fibrinogen should be. As a result, platelets cannot bind together and dangerous clot formations are prevented."

Results of this study, presented at the annual American Heart Association meetings, showed that patients with unstable angina, who were given integrelin plus the blood-thinner heparin had much less platelet aggregation than those given aspirin and heparin. When monitored, they also had fewer signs of oxygen starvation to heart tissue.

"We think these agents will become the future treatment for preventing heart attack and stroke in people with a tendency for thrombosis formation and possibly women in particular," Goldschmidt says.

For media inquiries only, call Debbie Bangledorf at (410) 223-1731.


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