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Death Rate from Coronary Heart Disease Has Dropped 38 Percent in a Decade

From 2003 to 2013, the death rate from coronary heart disease (CHD) fell about 38 percent, according to the American Heart Association, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CHD is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the primary federal agency that funds heart research, says this decline has come about because of better control of cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced smoking rates, improved medical treatments, and faster care of people in the throes of a heart attack. "It may not be long before cardiovascular disease is no longer the leading cause of death" in the United States, observes Dr. Michael Lauer, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at NHLBI.

NIH Body Weight Planner Added to USDA SuperTracker Food and Activity Tool

A new, science-based technology provides users greater customizing to help reach and stay at a healthy weight.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NIH have partnered to add the NIH Body Weight Planner, http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/body-weight-planner/Pages/bwp.aspx, to USDA's SuperTracker online tool as a goal-setting resource to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent complications related to overweight and obesity such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

"NIH's collaboration with USDA allows the public to quickly reap the benefits of the latest medical research results," says NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, MD. "Sharing resources and expertise lets us get out important information as efficiently as possible, empowering people to take charge of their weight and their health."

Promising Method for Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

Nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, according to NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI). Among the patients treated for pancreatic cancer, five year survival rates are 10-fold higher if the disease is identified in an early stage than in an advanced stage, with distant sites of disease (27.1 percent vs 2.4 percent). Because the disease is very difficult to detect early enough for effective treatment, most pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed with advanced disease and fewer than 10 percent are expected to survive five years or longer.

One method of spotting cancer early enough to improve patient outcomes and survival is to find biomarkers—substances in the body that signal the presence of a disease. A team of scientists lead by Raghu Kalluri, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center searched for biomarkers on tiny, fluid-filled sacs called exosomes. Exosomes are released by cells and circulate in blood. The research, which was partially funded by NCI, was published in Nature on July 9, 2015.

The scientists compared exosomes from a human cancer cell line and several noncancerous cell lines. They tested a variety of biomarkers and found 48 that were unique to the cancer exosomes. One, called Glypican-1 or GPC1, was found at high levels in exosomes from pancreatic and breast cancer cells. The scientists were also able to detect higher levels of exosomes with GPC1 in blood samples of patients with pancreatic cancer, an important first step toward possible use of GPC1 as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer.

Fall 2015 Issue: Volume 10 Number 3 Page 28