Pharmacy Industry News: Scientists uncover how immune system responds to invading anthrax bacteria | Pharmacy Industry News

Pharmacy Industry News: Scientists uncover how immune system responds to invading anthrax bacteria

Scientists uncover how immune system responds to invading anthrax bacteria

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have uncovered how the body’s immune system launches its survival response to the notorious and deadly bacterium anthrax. The findings, reported online today and published in the June 22 issue of the journal Immunity, describe key emergency signals the body sends out when challenged by a life-threatening infection.

Exposure to anthrax often proves deadly. The anthrax bacterium can invade immune cells called macrophages and release potent toxins that paralyze key biochemical pathways, causing rapid cell death. Unchecked, the process may completely collapse the body’s immune defenses, allowing the bacteria to proliferate, and ultimately lead to septic shock and high mortality.

The researchers discovered that the fight against invading anthrax bacteria begins with the first infected cell. They found that initially impacted macrophages immediately communicate with other immune cells to sound the alarm and develop a survival strategy. Remarkably, the key signaling molecule involved in the survival response is adenosine triphosphate or ATP, a basic currency of energy transfer used by all organisms.

“The warning alarm sounded during anthrax infection is elegant, complex and can be effective in slowing spread of the pathogen,” said Michael Karin, PhD, distinguished professor of pharmacology and senior author of the study.

Karin explained that ATP is released from macrophages infected and poisoned with anthrax toxins through a special channel in the cell membrane. This ATP is then sensed by a receptor on a second macrophage, which assembles and activates a complex of molecules known as the inflammasome. The inflammasome then releases into the bloodstream an immune-activating molecule known as interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), which alerts macrophages throughout the body to mobilize and increase their resistance to anthrax-induced cell death.

Researchers confirmed the importance of this complex signal transduction pathway in fighting anthrax in a series of experiments using genetically altered mice or inhibitor drugs. Whenever the researchers interfered with the ATP channel, the ATP receptor, inflammasome proteins or the IL-1beta molecule, they found that the macrophages could not survive, anthrax bacteria grew unchecked or the infected mouse died rapidly. They also noted that the immune response pathway responded only to the most dangerous bacterial pathogens. Infections using a mutant anthrax bacterium lacking the deadly toxins did not set off the alarm system in test animals.

“We hope these findings can be exploited for the design of new treatments to help the body combat serious bacterial pathogens,” said Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy, whose infectious disease research laboratory contributed to the study. “Supporting the survival of macrophages and preserving their immune function may buy patients precious time until antibiotic therapy is brought on board to clear the infection.”

CAQH partnership focuses on synchronizing med, pharmacy e-transaction rules

The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) and the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare’s Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange (CAQH CORE) have agreed to collaborate on activities related to harmonizing electronic data interchange standards and operating rules across the healthcare industry. The two organizations, which have been working together informally for several years, made this formal agreement to simplify administrative transactions for providers and patients and to meet the goals of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in this area.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has asked the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS), a government advisory body, to make recommendations that will enable HHS to implement the administrative simplification provisions of the ACA. In turn, NCVHS has tasked NCPDP with providing operating rules for pharmacy transactions and CORE–which represents health plans and other industry stakeholders–with devising operating rules for non-pharmacy transactions. The rules apply to areas such as eligibility, claims status, electronic funds transfer, and electronic remittance advice.

In an interview with FierceHealthIT, Gwendolyn Lohse, deputy director and CORE managing director at CAQH, notes that NCVHS expects CORE to deliver a set of operating rules for payment and remittance by Aug. 1 of this year. “Those rules will address how the medical and the pharmacy [payment systems] collaborate and reference one another,” she says. After going through a government rulemaking and comment process, she adds, the operating rules must be ready for industrywide use by July 2012.

As they develop their own sets of rules, CORE and NCPDP will look ahead to see where they need to be harmonized, Lohse points out. Examples of areas that may require collaboration include:
Payment enrollment: Whether providers elect to receive payment by check, EFT, or some other method, the medical and pharmacy industries will discuss how to make this easier. “For instance, if providers enroll for payments that have both pharmacy and medical included, how can we coordinate that?” Lohse asks. This already occurs, she notes, in the oncology field.
Denial codes: With over 100 of these codes in use, NCPDP and CORE are discussing the possibility of harmonizing frequently used codes to make it easier for the end user to deal with them.
Billing over the Internet: Medical and pharmacy groups could agree on common digital certificates in line with the efforts of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to improve online security.
Shared milestones: CORE and NCPDP should adopt rule changes in a coordinated way so that, Lohse says, “when we move to a fully electronic system, we’re not setting up so many variations in how security works, or in how approaches to simplification work, that we actually cause more confusion [among end users and patients].”

Online MHT CET results out, Pune division students fare badly

The online results for MHT CET 2011 were declared at 10 am on Tuesday. Over three lakh students had appeared for the combined entrance examination for medical, engineering and pharmacy on May 12. Admission process for autonomous as well as other engineering and pharmacy colleges will begin on June 21.

Directorate of Technical Education said 2.98 lakh students appeared for the test, out of which 2.5 lakh were for engineering. While a total of 37 students secured 190 plus marks, performance of Pune division was not satisfactory as only four students secured more than 190, a press note said.

With 19 state government-aided colleges with an intake capacity of 5,768 students and 290 unaided colleges that can accommodate 1,08,500 students, the state has a total capacity to train 1,14,268 students for engineering. The number is 9,170 in case of Pharmacy. The intake is expected to increase for the year 2011-12.

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