Tag: cholesterol

Food for Thought: Weekly Wrap-Up

Manfred Lindinger in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) introduces a giant molecule the size of a virus. It is not a macromolecule – instead, it consists of just two rubidium atoms glued together by one electron.

Forget about “good” cholesterol, writes Nicola von Lutterotti, also in FAZ. Latest studies revealed that drug therapies to increase HDL failed to reduce the risk for cardiovascular events and did not prolong life.

Klaus Sievers in Die Welt explains how sewage plants can be used to produce electricity. The trick is done by microbial fuel cells populated by metal-reducing bacteria.

Garage biotech is approaching fast, writes Ted Greenwald in Forbes. He introduces OpenPCR, a $599 build-it-yourself PCR machine and PersonalPCR, a $149 2-tube PCR thermocycler by a company called Cofactor Bio. The DNA analysis is performed by Cofactor. Already, the machines have been used by high school students to identify tilapia fish sold as white tuna in a sushi restaurant.

The Economist features Ron DePinho, the new president of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, a serial entrepreneur who us planning to use the results of the International Cancer Genome Consortium to develop new drugs against five cancers. The effort is financed by a $3 billion cancer-research fund created by the state of Texas and local philanthropists.

In the New York Times (NYT), Gina Kolata profiles Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and the MIT, who excelled as a mathematician but then was attracted by fruit flies and nematodes so that he finally decided to become a geneticist.

Susanne Kutter introduces in Wirtschaftswoche the latest, indispensable winter outfit: gloves that allow for the handling of smartphone and camera touch screens.

Last not least, Hanna Wick in Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) introduces “Science Ink”, a book by US science writer Carl Zimmer which features tattoos worn by researchers and science enthusiastics, e. g. Schroedinger’s cat, a geological cross section or a piece of DNA.

Food for Thought: IQWiG Says Benefit Of Ezetimibe Not Proven

Various studies have demonstrated that lowering cholesterol levels with statins is preventing heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications. However, some patients do not tolerate statins or do not achieve recommended cholesterol levels with statins alone. These patients often are prescribed ezetimibe (sold as Ezetrol by MSD Sharp & Dohme in Germany), an oral cholesterol-absorption inhibitor, either alone or in combination with statins. A fixed combination of ezetimibe with statin simvastatin is sold as Inegy.

Last year, Germany’s Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) which is deciding about drug reimbursements for the country’s statutory healthcare system, commissioned Germany’s cost-benefit watchdog IQWiG to assess the benefit of ezetimibe either alone or as combination therapy.

IQWiG published its report earlier this month. While it not disputes that ezetimibe is lowering cholesterol levels, the institute states in its report that it has been unable to identify any review or study demonstrating that the prescription of ezetimibe alone or in combination does provide patient-related benefits in terms of reducing “all-cause” or “vascular” mortality.

However, new data and findings supporting the benefit of ezetimibe will be available soon.  Pulse Magazine, a leading medical weekly in the UK, reported Sept. 2 that researchers looked into the effectiveness of ezetimibe in combination with statins on all-cause mortality over a period of 4.3 years. They concluded that the combination treatment – if used after a myocardial infarction – resulted in a 55% decrease in all-cause mortality compared to patients taking simvastatin alone. The trial was a retrospective study on a cohort of nearly 15,000 patients from the UK’s General Practice Research Database. The researchers already had announced a presentation of the results at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris end of August, but cancelled the presentation to perform a more complex analysis of the data.