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Platelet E-News – July 16, 2003


  • Tip: Preventing West Nile
  • More Mosquito News
  • Statins and T-cells
  • Green Tea and Autoimmunity
  • Improving Doctor/Patient Communication
  • Genetic Approach My Help Tailor Drugs to Patients
  • Free Shipping on ITP Conference Tapes Through July 31
  • Herbal Treatment (advertisement)
  • Does Your ITP Treatment Have a Low Incidence of Side Effects (advertisement)



For parts of the United States, summertime brings damp, warm weather-and the risk of West Nile virus. Spread by mosquitoes, which thrive in wet areas and high temperatures, West Nile is a concern, albeit a slim one. As of late June 2003, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had no reported human cases of West Nile for 2003.

However, if you are over the age of 50 or have an impaired immune system, you should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and the possibility of West Nile. The CDC suggests the following:

Know the symptoms. If you experience fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, or swollen lymph glands, contact your physician.

Clean out areas where mosquitoes live and breed. Standing water and clogged gutters are breeding places for mosquitoes.

Be aware. Alert local authorities of any dead birds and standing water in public places, and stay updated on local West Nile prevention tactics.

Prevent bites. Wear protective clothing (such as long sleeves and pants) when outdoors. Apply insect repellent containing DEET to all exposed skin, especially in the early morning and evening hours-peak mosquito times. (If you prefer to avoid DEET, I recommend Geraniol-based products, some of which can be found at

Published with permission from

Editor Note: PDSA recommends wearing protective clothing and using as gentle a mosquito deterrent as possible. While, there have been no studies directly linking ITP and pesticides there has been research linking pesticides and other autoimmune diseases. See


Today the Washington Post reports the West Nile virus is spreading much more quickly than last year. According to the CDC there are more states reporting the presence of the virus and at least four human cases have been confirmed to date. Since the virus can be spread through blood transfusions, blood banks have begun screening donations for the virus.

“West Nile Spreading Rapidly” The Washington Post, Wednesday, July 16, 2003.

Mosquito coils consisting of spiral-shaped strips of insecticide treated material are sometimes burned to control the pests. Now researchers from Rutgers University report that the particles released by these coils can carry toxic carcinogenic compounds such as formaldehyde to the lungs. Since the amounts and types of pollutants emitted by various brands of these coils differ widely, systematic testing is needed to help consumers make informed choices.

“Antimosquito coils release toxic fumes” Science News July 12, 2003, Vol 164


Common drugs used to reduce cholesterol call statins can have an effect on your T-cells reports Sawsan Youssef, PhD of the Beckman Center for Molecular Medicine. Atorvastatin (Lipitor, Pfizer) was shown to prevent or reverse autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice models by promoting the differentiation of T-lymphocyte cells (a type of white blood cell) into Th2 cells (T helper cells type 2). The author concluded that atorvastatin has immunomodulatory effects involving both the antigen presenting cells and T-cells.

From: “Should statins be tried as therapeutic adjuncts to aplastic anemia?” July 2003/Hem/Onc today ( See also “Nature”2002 Nov. 7;420 (6911):39-40 and

Editor Note: This is important because many researchers consider ITP a T-cell mediated disease.

We have received e-mails from several people who feel that taking a statin has either caused their ITP or made it worse. If you have ITP and are also taking or have taken statins please send an e-mail to describing your experience (positive, negative or neutral).


Green tea polyphenol extract suppressed inflammation in mice that are bred to mimic an intestinal autoimmune disease. More study is required to determine if a smaller amount of green tea will have similar anti-inflammatory benefits since the extract used in these experiments was comparable to 100-200 cups of green tea per day. In prior experiments a smaller amount green tea extract was shown to reduce the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis. Green tea extract is now available in health food stores.



According to one estimate, difficulties in physician/patient communication cost the US Healthcare system $73 billion dollars a year. When patients don’t understand their condition and the suggested treatments they are more likely to make medication errors, comply with treatment less often and suffer with their chronic condition for a longer time. A new health literacy program sponsored by the Partnership for Clear Health Communication, a coalition that includes the American Medical Association Foundation, the American Public Health Association, the National Coalition for Literacy and Pfizer, Inc. aims to help patients and physicians bridge the communication gap.

The Partnership suggests that patients always ask: “What is my main problem? What is it important for me to do? And why is it important for me to do this?”

See for more information about the Partnership. See and to help translate medical terms

.From: “The Informed Patient” by Laura Landro, “Doctor’s Orders Are Useless If They’re Befuddling. Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2003.


The growing field of ‘personalized medicine’ hopes to eliminate the trial and error approach to treatments. Roche Holding AG is launching AmpliChip CYP450, a test to help predict how a patient will react to some medications. Using a drop of blood or smear from the inside of a patient’s cheek, the test checks for variations in two genes known to play a critical role in metabolizing about one-fourth of the prescription drugs on the market. Roche will make the test available to 400 specially certified laboratories. By late 2004 Roche hopes to have FDA approval to distribute it more widely.

“Roche Test Promises to Tailor Drugs to Patients” by Vanessa Fuhrmans, Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2003.