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LA BioMed Medical/Research Briefs - December 2004

LA BioMed

Men with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- which includes a number of lung problems such as emphysema that make breathing difficult -- may benefit from an extra dose of testosterone, a new study indicates.

People with COPD are often easily fatigued and can't tolerate much physical exertion, probably because of loss of muscle strength. Testosterone supplementation appears to increase lean muscle mass and strength in men with moderate to severe COPD and low testosterone levels, LA BioMed researchers report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Patients with chronic lung disease have been found to benefit from rehabilitative therapies aimed at improving the function of their muscles. This research suggests the anabolic drug testosterone improves muscle strength," says Dr. Richard Casaburi. Casaburi and colleagues investigated the effects of testosterone supplementation in a study of 47 men with COPD and low normal testosterone levels.

The participants were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: testosterone supplementation and strength training; placebo and strength training; testosterone and no strength training; or placebo and no strength training. After 10 weeks, both testosterone groups showed a significant increase in lean body mass. This amounted to an average increase of 2.3 kilograms (about 5 pounds) in those given testosterone alone and 3.3 kg (a little more than 7 pounds) in those who received training and testosterone.

Moreover, the team found that maximum leg press strength increased 17 percent with either testosterone alone or training alone, but by 27 percent with both. No adverse effects were seen. Despite these encouraging results, "further research in a larger number of patients is needed before we can routinely recommend testosterone supplementation for men with COPD," Casaburi cautioned.

To contact Dr. Casaburi, please call David Feuerherd at 310-215-0234 / 310-222-2820 or e-mail him at

Disquieting Reports of the Scope of Hospital Acquired Infections

With proposed legislation in California, Florida and other states requiring disclosure of the magnitude of nosocomial (in-hospital) infections, attention has centered on the widespread nature of the problem. On December 3 and 4 in Miami, infectious disease experts from around the world will meet to discuss the current treatment and prevention options, as well as delve into the future implications of antibiotic resistance and nosocomial infections. The conference is titled "Focus on Hospital Associated Infections: Advances in the Management and Control."

Conference co-chairman, John Edwards, MD, principal investigator at LA BioMed and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, believes significant inroads can be made toward reducing the number of deaths that occur each year from these serious infections. With 2 million patients infected and $5.5 billion spent every year on these infections, Dr. Edwards believes it is time to focus on the future. According to Edwards, "There are nearly 90,000 preventable deaths each year from severe hospital associated infections - that's a Vietnam every year."

Dr. Edwards has also been leading the discussion on the need for the development of new drugs to combat infectious diseases. According to Dr. Edwards:

We are faced now by an alarming but predictable rate of resistance of microorganisms to present-day antibiotics, the emergence of new infectious diseases like AIDS, the West Nile virus and SARS, the reemergence of older infections like tuberculosis, the imminent threat of bioterroism, and the ever present threat of a deadly influenza pandemic.

Despite the critical need for new antiinfective agents (antibiotics, anti-viral drugs and vaccines), the past decade has seen a substantial decline in their development, a decline that is projected to worsen.

Why? Drug discovery efforts have shifted from antiinfectives toward agents that treat the chronic medical conditions of the aging - conditions such as arthritis, hypertension and diabetes. Another reason is economics. Drugs that are used by large numbers for prolonged periods of time are more profitable for development than those used for short-term illnesses.

To contact Dr. Edwards, please call David Feuerherd at 310-215-0234 / 310-222-2820 or e-mail him at


The Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) is one of the largest independent, not-for-profit biomedical research institutes in Los Angeles County. Affiliated with both the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the Institute has an annual budget of over $67 million and currently supports more than 1,000 research studies in areas such as cardiology, emerging infections, cancer, women's health, reproductive health, vaccine research, respiratory physiology, neonatology, molecular biology, and genetics. LA BioMed also plays a pivotal role in the training of young physician - scientists and scientists-to-be and is active in promoting the health and well being of nearby communities through community service programs that meet a variety of social and medical needs.

SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, October 15, 2004.

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