May 4, 2016

Did you know that without blood transfusions, there would be no “Star Wars” universe? No Luke Skywalker, no Darth Vader, no Han Solo, no R2-D2. No power of The Force. The truth, it is!  

Turns out, there definitely was a powerful force that that helped save “Star Wars” - the power of blood donation.

The man whose dreams became the epic series, George Lucas, nearly died in an automobile accident during his senior year of high school. Lucas was driving home on June 12, 1962, when his car was struck broadside by another vehicle going 90 miles an hour, causing it to roll multiple times.

“I should have been dead,” the filmmaker told Oprah Winfrey in an interview.

May 2, 2016

When it comes to finding a match for a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, the ethnic backgrounds of donors and recipients are critically important.

That’s because the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) markers used for finding matches are inherited. To be safe and effective, the markers must be a close match.

The donations are a major part of therapy for blood-related disorders, mainly blood cancers.

According to Be The Match, which works in conjunction with GenCure to add potential donors to its national registry, here is the likelihood of finding an adult donor match:

April 25, 2016

Patients who get blood transfusions as soon as possible after severe injuries are far less likely to die from those injuries, a study by the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

“Bleeding is the major cause of preventable death after trauma,” said Dr. Elizabeth Powell, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UC and lead author on the study, in a release on the university’s website.

In the study, the team tracked trauma patients who were transported via Air Care helicopter to the university’s medical center and received at least one unit of blood within 24 hours of arriving at the hospital.

“Air Care is the only helicopter in the area to carry blood (and plasma), so we had the research platform to study how early blood transfusions impact outcomes,” Powell said.

April 18, 2016

Canadian researchers have found that a drug developed for research purposes has the ability to waylay cells that cause one of the most-aggressive forms of leukemia.

The compound, known as GSK-J4, demonstrated that it could prevent a gene that causes a type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia from spurring the production of cancer cells. Three weeks of treatment with GSK-J4 in rats reduced the number of cancer cells by 80 percent and left non-cancer cells unharmed.

“It’s very exciting because this is the first time anyone has found a potential personalized treatment for this aggressive disease,” said Dr. Marjorie Brand, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. “Unlike current therapies, ours targets the offending gene without harming the rest of the body.”

April 11, 2016

Researchers around the world are developing treatments for type 1 diabetes, which is currently incurable, using a patient’s own stem cells.

In type 1 diabetes, the body prevents the pancreas from producing enough insulin, which is used to control blood glucose levels. Patients with type 1 diabetes inject daily doses of insulin to control their blood sugar.

A company in Japan announced it has developed a way to turn induced pluripotent stem cells (also known as iPS cells) into cells in the pancreas that can secrete insulin. The next step in research by medical equipment maker Arkay is to develop a way to grow the pancreatic cells in greater numbers.