Platelet E-News – January 17, 2005

This e-newsletter is a monthly publication of The Platelet Disorder Support Association. The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. For advice on your unique medical condition, please consult a health care professional.


  • New Website to Make Technical Research Available to Patients
  • More Clinical Trial Data to be Released by Drug Industry
  • Evidence Supports Asbestos Exposure as Autoimmune Trigger
  • Interferon-a Therapy linked to ITP
  • Nontoxic Musks May Enhance Effects of Toxic Agents
  • Strong Relationships Can Improve Health
  • Radiation from Mobile Phone Use Harms DNA



Good news for patients. The goal of a new website is “to make technical research easier for the public to understand and to empower patients to have a more productive dialogue with their physicians.” The site results from the cooperation of a group of publishers, health societies, and libraries. It will be available this spring at There will be no charge for the service. Initially the site will focus on cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The site will also make available no-cost links to the full text of papers and other research.

Science News, January 8, 2004, vol. 167, p29.


Trade groups representing drug manufacturers in the United States, Europe, and Japan announced earlier this month that their members plan to release more clinical trial data. The announced plans exclude early stage phase one studies on healthy volunteers. These studies often signal a new direction in product development and it is thought that releasing this data would compromise a company’s strategic direction. There is no obligation to release any results prior to a drugs approval. The plans are, however, quite specific. A company must register trials within 21 days of the start date and provide a unique identifier to permit easy tracking. Results would be required within one year of the drugs approval and for drugs already approved within one year of completion of the study. These plans address the demands of last September by a group of medical-journal editors for more openness by the drug manufacturers.



While the exact mechanism leading to the progression of asbestos-related lung disease (ARD) has not been fully explained, evidence supports that some of the lung pathologies seen with asbestos and silica exposure are immunologically mediated. Both of these substances appear to aggravate autoimmune responses. The researchers at the University of Montana report results from their comprehensive study to assess the prevalence, specificity, and significance of autoantibodies associated with asbestos exposure. The population of Libby, Montana experienced community wide exposure to asbestos that resulted from the mining of vermiculite. The authors compared a sample of subjects from Libby with a sample of subjects from Missoula, Montana where prevailing winds protected the population from the asbestos exposure. They report “significant differences in frequency and titer of positive ANA tests, frequency of positive ENA tests, and higher levels of serum IgA [tests used to diagnose autoimmune diseases] when an asbestos-exposed Libby cohort was compared with one from Missoula with no reported asbestos exposures.” The study data supports the hypothesis that asbestos exposure is associated with autoimmune responses and “provides the foundation and justification for a larger and more extensive study planned to explore these associations.”

J.C. Pfau, et. al., “Assessment of Autoimmune Responses Associated with Asbestos Exposure in Libby, Momtana, USA”, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 113, number 1, January , 2005, pp 25-30.


There is no known cause or cure for Autoimmune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (AITP). However, as with most autoimmune diseases there is thought in many cases to be a trigger, an agent that initiates a misdirection of the immune system. Researchers at Kagoshima University in Japan report a case of interferon-a [(IFN)-a], a treatment for several hematopoietic [blood] malignancies, triggering a case of AITP. The patient reported by these researchers was being treated for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) with INF-a. She showed a complete hematological response and major cytogenetic response. When her platelet count was 54K the INF-a (OIF) was discontinued. After one month, petechiae appeared on her legs and her platelets dropped to 6K. The patient displayed severe thrombocytopenia, marked elevation of platelet-associated immunoglobulin G, and a good response to prednisone. The authors attribute the AITP in this case to the production of autoimmune antibodies against platelets by INF-a (OIF). Therapy was changed from the OIF to Sumiferon and the thrombocytopenia was not detected. The authors suggest that the “subtle differences between the two purified types of INF-a might indicate an etiology of autoimmune antibody production.”

K. Arimura, et. al., “Severe Autoimmune Thrombocytopenic Purpura during Interferon-a Therapy for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia”, Acta Haematologica, vol. 112, 2004, pp 217 – 218.


Synthetic musks are widely used in fragrances, detergents, soaps, and cosmetics. Routine toxicology screens have always shown these compounds to be nontoxic. However, a recent study raises the possibility that musks may reduce the body’s ability to defend against toxic compounds. Using mussel gill tissue, researcher have found that exposure to synthetic musks inhibits the tissue’s natural defenses against toxic compounds. The effect persisted long after the end of the tissue’s exposure to the synthetic musks. This research raises the possibility that musks which concentrate in fats, including breast milk may remain in human tissue long after exposure. This further suggests that long-term exposure could result in concentrations high enough to impair natural cellular defenses against toxins in humans.

T. Luckenbach and D. Epel, “Nitromusk and Polycyclic Compounds as Long-Term Inhibitors of Cellular Xenobiotic Defense Systems Mediated by Multidrug Transporters”, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 113, 2005, pp 17 – 24.

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Social occasions that offer opportunities to check in with friends and relatives to exchange ideas and greetings, find a supportive ear or shoulder not only give us immediate pleasure, they also influence our long-term health. Dozens of studies show that people who enjoy social support are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Evidence also suggests that life-enhancing effects of social support benefit giver and receiver alike. The quality and variety of the relationships is important. Remember social contacts in themselves don’t uniformly enhance wellbeing. Take the time; make the effort; cultivate the most meaningful relationships. Exchange ideas, lend an ear or shoulder, and enjoy better health and a longer life not only for yourself but for others as well.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “The Benefits of Good Connections”, vol. 12, # 4, December 2004, p 1.


While no independently repeated study has proved that radiation has permanent harmful effects, lab work with human and animal cells has shown a significant increase in single and double-strand DNA breaks. This was damage that could not always be repaired by the cell. The electromagnetic fields to which the cells were exposed were typical those generated by mobile phones. The researchers said the study did not prove any health risks. They added that “the genotoxic and phenotypic effects clearly require further studies … on animals and human volunteers.”


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