A Medical Device Daily

European researchers have found evidence suggesting that small size at birth and excessive weight gain during adolescence and young adulthood may lead to low-grade inflammation, which in turn is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. In the study, the researchers followed 5,840 people from before birth to the age of 31. They used C-reactive protein (CRP) as a marker for general inflammation.

Previous epidemiological studies have linked environmental factors in early life with the risk of disease in adulthood, and this study by researchers at Imperial College London identifies a possible cause.

The study, published last week in the European Heart Journal, underlines the importance of healthy lifestyles — from the fetal period through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood — in preventing heart problems. The European Heart Journal is the journal of the European Society of Cardiology (Sophia Antipolis, France).

"Low-grade inflammation is important because it has been associated with future cardiovascular events in many population studies over the past few years and it may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease," said one of the authors, Paul Elliott, professor and department head of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College London.

Elliott and his colleagues found that when the participants in the Finnish study reached the age of 31, CRP levels were 16% higher per 1 kg lower birth weight, 21% higher per 10cms shorter length at birth, and 24% higher per 1 kg/m3 lower at birth (kg/m3 is known as ponderal index), after adjusting for potential conflicting factors.

People who were among the smallest at birth, but who then put on the most weight up to the age of 31, had the highest average CRP levels.

Dr. Ioanna Tzoulaki, first author of the study and lecturer in epidemiology at Imperial College London, said, "We compared birth weight of children participating in the Finland 1966 Birth Cohort study with their CRP levels at age 31, and found that those who had lower birth weight have higher CRP levels when they are adults, and also the other way [around] people who had higher birth weight had lower CRP levels as adults.

"These findings lead us to conclude that small size at birth and excessive weight gain during adolescence and young adulthood may predispose to low grade inflammation, which, in turn, is associated with increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease," Tzoulaki said.

In their EHJ report, the authors said, "The finding that weight gain from adolescence to young adulthood appears to play a greater role in low-grade inflammation than weight in adolescence per se, [and] could have important implications for the primordial prevention of cardiovascular disease."

They added, "Promoting healthier lifestyle in childhood and adolescence, leading to weight stabilization might be a crucial step in establishing a low cardiovascular risk profile in young adults."

The authors said their study suggests that low birth weight, followed by a greater-than-average increase in BMI, may trigger the production of the low-grade inflammatory response.

Elliott said, "Low birth weight has been associated with future cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes in many studies. This study ... provides a possible explanation for their findings: that this association might be mediated through the effects of birth size on low-grade inflammation, as measured by CRP levels."

Few heart-related problems have appeared among the study participants because they are still relatively young. However, the researchers said intend to follow them for at least another 20 years, in order to explore further the associations between small size at birth, weight gain, low-grade inflammation and the number of cardiovascular problems that will occur.

CyberKnife system sale 1st in Switzerland

Accuray (Sunnyvale, California) reported that the Hirslanden Clinic (Zurich, Switzerland), part of what it termed "the renowned Hirslanden group of private hospitals," has purchased a CyberKnife System, marking the first sale of the system in that country.

The company said the CyberKnife system is the world's only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors anywhere in the body non-invasively. Using continual image guidance technology and computer-controlled robotic mobility, the system automatically tracks, detects and corrects for tumor and patient movement in real time throughout the treatment.

The company said the system will be used by Hirslanden for both intracranial and extracranial treatments, particularly the non-invasive treatment of prostate cancer. And the addition of the CyberKnife system is seen supporting the establishment of Neurocenter Zurich, which will offer a full range of therapeutic options in neurological diseases.

"With the purchase of the CyberKnife, we can now offer the complete spectrum of a modern radiation-oncology program," said Dr. Christian von Briel, co-chairman of Hirslanden radiation-oncology. "We are also [pleased] to start a scientific cooperation with the CyberKnife center in Nice, France. Working with this academic hospital will be valuable for the development of our extracranial activity."

According to the National Swiss Cancer Association, 34,406 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in Switzerland during 2008. Of that number, 18,660 are men, with prostate cancer expected to make up 30% of those cases.

Q-Med sales weaken in North America, Japan

Q-Med (Stockholm, Sweden) said it continued to see weak deliveries of aesthetic products to North America and Japan during 1Q08, affected in North America by the build-up of inventories that occurred during the second and third quarters last year, while Japanese deliveries are being affected by Q-Med not being actively present in the market, plus sales still being negatively affected due to previous payment problems by a major customer.

The company estimated that sales during 1Q08 totaled SEK 289 million, with operating income of about SEK 10 million.

Q-Med makes medical implant products, a majority of which are based on the company's NASHA technology for the production of stabilized non-animal hyaluronic acid. Its portfolio includes fillers such as Restylane, Macrolane and Durolane.