Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 30, 1995


Medical News

Key proteins identified in inflammation of joints

     Hopkins medical researchers have found a key link in the
chain reaction that causes inflammation of the lining of the
joints in arthritis. The discovery may aid the search for drugs
that suppress or control these events before the joints are

     The scientists found that activation of two types of
molecules called G-proteins is part of a cascade of signals that
causes the lining of the joints to become inflamed. The reaction
begins when bradykinin, a small protein, binds with special
receptors on the outside of the cells making up the lining of the
joints. The G-proteins are in the cellular "skin" of this lining,
called the synovium, which is rich in bradykinin receptors.

     "This study provides the first direct evidence that
G-proteins connect the pathways to bradykinin receptors in human
synovial cells," said Helen Robinson, the study's lead author.
"Now the goal is to develop strategies to block the pathways and
to develop new anti-inflammatory drugs that can do that job."

     Currently available anti-inflammatory drugs for the most
part have been disappointing, making it logical to investigate
other ways to prevent or control inflammation, Robinson said.  

Endometriosis symptoms may be linked to ovaries 

     Results of a Hopkins study indicatethat women who have
hysterectomies for severe endometriosis may experience fewer
recurring symptoms if their ovaries also are removed. 

     Women with endometriosis who kept their ovaries after
hysterectomy were six times more likely to have pain return and
eight times more likely to require further surgery. 

     Endometriosis occurs when bits of tissue resembling the
endometrium, the lining of the uterus, grow outside the uterus on
the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the pelvic cavity. The cause is
unknown, but its growth is stimulated by estrogen, the principal
female hormone produced by the ovaries. It affects up to 10
percent of women of childbearing age and up to 15 percent of
older, premenopausal women, researchers said. 

     Symptoms may include infertility, pelvic and back pain,
painful menstruation, painful intercourse and difficulty with
bowel movements. Some affected women have no symptoms.

     Anne Namnoum, the study's lead author and formerly an
assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics, said most
endo-metriosis patients are treated with medication that stops
production of estrogen or with laparoscopic surgery to remove the
foreign tissue. Pain returns within five years in 50 percent of
patients taking medication and in 40 percent choosing
laparoscopic surgery, but these are the only current options for
women who want to bear children, researchers said. 

     Women currently have four treatment options for
endometriosis: medication, conservative surgery or, as a last
resort, hysterectomy with or without removal of the ovaries. 

     Only the more complete surgeries may cure the problem; the
first two options only relieve the symptoms, which often return
in a few years, the researchers said.

     The study results are published in the November issue of
Fertility and Sterility.

Eye drops may better fight some eye infections

     Researchers have shown that a new antibiotic eyedrop
treatment for a potentially blinding eye infection called
bacterial ulcerative keratitis is easier to use and just as good
as the standard therapy, which uses a mixture of two other
antibiotics. Patients also suffer less discomfort from the new
treatment than from the standard therapy.

     "This study, which is the first to compare the two
treatments, should change the guidelines for treating bacterial
keratitis," said Terrence P. O'Brien, assistant professor of
ophthalmology and director of ocular infectious diseases at the
Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. O'Brien is the principal
investigator and lead author of the paper, published in the
October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. 

     The study also found that the single antibiotic drug
ofloxacin causes less irritation and burning in the eye than the
standard treatment, said O'Brien, who led the 28-center study
group called the Bacterial Keratitis Study. Ofloxacin is already
used for conjunctivitis, an infection of the lining of the eye.

Other News

Blue Jays football ranked sixth in southern region

     The Blue Jays football team moved into the national Division
III football rankings last week with its 7-3 win over Division
I-AA Georgetown. In the Oct. 23 poll, Hopkins was ranked sixth in
the southern region. 

     Columbus Multimedia, which compiles weekly power ratings
based on a number of statistics, ranked the Blue Jays third       
in the southern region and 25th nationally.

Water polo team takes second championship

     The Blue Jays water polo team cruised to its second
consecutive Eastern Water Polo Association Division III
championship following last Saturday's 12-8 victory over 
Washington & Lee. The team had previously defeated MIT, 22-9, and
the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, 21-7, to earn a berth in the
championship game.  

     Senior Chadd Crump (The Gazette, Oct. 9), led Hopkins
through the three-game tournament, scoring nine goals and eight
assists. On the year, Crump scored 60 goals and 13 assists on his
way to becoming the school's second all-time leading scorer.

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