Clinical Abstracts from Overseas

By Stanton R. Mehr
Published: Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010
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â–º Germany

Drop the Syringe, Pick up the Tattooing Needle

According to a new report on methods of delivering DNA vaccinations, researchers from the Cancer Research Center of Heidelberg, Germany, assert that intramuscular injection is not the best way to go. They suggest a far more unconventional mode of vaccination.

Using a model DNA antigen vaccine, the coat protein from human papillomavirus (HPV), the researchers found that tattooing the vaccine into the skin of mice produced a far greater antibody response compared with standard intramuscular injections.

After three doses of tattooed vaccine, the antibody response was reported to be 16 times greater than the injected vaccine.

They also noted that the use of a molecular adjuvant to help initiate an immune response was helpful with the injected vaccine but did not alter response to the vaccine delivered by tattoo needle.

They believe that the solid vibrating tattoo needle produces bleeding, necrosis, and accompanying inflammation and does a better job of activating the immune system. They also believe that the tattoo administration covers a relatively large area of skin, permitting absorption of the DNA antigen into a greater number of cells.

However, there is no getting around the pain associated with tattooing. This may be the limiting factor in utilizing such a vaccine delivery system.


Pokorna D, Rubio I, Müller M: DNA-vaccination via tattooing induces stronger humoral and cellular immune responses than intramuscular delivery supported by molecular adjuvants. Genetic Vaccines and Therapy 2008;6:4. E-pub February 7, 2008.





â–º Germany

Infertility Risk for Men With Hodgkin’s Lymphoma


The prognosis for patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma has steadily improved as treatment has advanced. Clinicians treating these patients, who are typically younger than patients with many other types of cancers, are increasingly considering the longer-term effects of treatment and how they may affect patients later in life. The question of whether cytoxic chemotherapy may affect male fertility is an important consideration, and a group of researchers from Cologne, Germany, published a study recently in Blood to identify the risk involved.

Thirty-eight men (median age, 26 yr; all were younger than 60 yr) with advanced-stage Hodgkin’s disease were given combination therapy with bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone (known as BEACOPP) and enrolled in the German Hodgkin Study Group. The majority of patients (84%) also received radiotherapy. Semen analysis was performed before and after starting therapy as well as at regular follow-up visits after therapy was completed.

After treatment, 34 of the 38 men had azoospermia and the remainder had dysspermia. Only four patients who had azoospermia after completing chemotherapy regained the ability to create viable sperm. Those who did regain fertility did so an average of 3.6 years after completing treatment.

Most of the patients had fertility abnormalities before starting therapy (likely linked to the Hodgkin’s lymphoma), so it is difficult to conclude just how the chemotherapy damages fertility, but the scientists pointed out that signs of germ-tissue epithelial damage may provide clues as to how lasting injury is incurred.


Sieniawski M, Reineke T, Nogova L, et al: Fertility in male patients with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma treated with BEACOPP: A report of the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG). Blood 2008;111:71-76.





â–º Israel

Putting Women Under the Spotlight: Higher Frequency of Breast Cancer?


An unusual study that linked cancer epidemiology and night-time satellite imagery of the Earth from NASA has lent support to a surprising oncology connection. It appears that women who live in areas with night-time light pollution are subject to higher frequencies of breast cancer than people who live in regions with darker night-time skies, according to an Israeli study from the University of Haifa.

Studies performed in laboratory rats had revealed a connection between light and cancer development; studies in women working in well-lit night-time conditions (such as night-shift employees) had indicated the link in humans. The World Health Organization announced late last year that it considered nightshift work to be a probable carcinogen.

Using highly detailed NASA satellite photographs of night-time illumination and geographic epidemiologic maps of breast and lung cancer incidence in Israeli neighborhoods, the researchers adjusted for a number of factors known to be associated with the risk of these two cancers. Although they found no link with lung cancer incidence, they did report a strong correlation between breast cancer and nighttime lighting, reporting that areas of average light had 37% increased breast cancer rates compared with areas having the least nighttime illumination. Areas with the greatest relative illumination had more than one-quarter greater risk than those of average lighting.


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