TURKU, FINLAND. An atopic disease is a form of allergy where the hypersensitivity reaction occurs at a location different from the initial contact point between the body and the offending agent (allergen). For example, food taken by mouth may cause an allergic skin reaction - atopic dermatitis. The incidence of atopic diseases such as dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, and asthma is rising in industrialized countries and now affects about 20% of the population.
ALBANY, NEW YORK. Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by periods of disrupted blood flow to the fingers caused by exposure to cold or stress. The condition is relieved by warming the affected parts. It is estimated that about 4% of the US population suffer from the primary form of this phenomenon, the so-called Raynaud's disease. Secondary Raynaud's phenomenon occurs in association with connective tissue disease (progressive systemic sclerosis).
WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous connective tissue (mainly collagen) that link two bones together at a joint. Injuries to ligaments are notoriously slow to heal. Researchers at Purdue University now report the results of an intriguing experiment which shows that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; the main component of fish oils) materially speeds up the healing of "wounded" ligament cells in vitro. The experiment was carried out on three cultures of animal medial collateral ligament cells. The first culture was treated with arachidonic acid (an n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid), the second with eicosapentaenoic acid (an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid), and the third served as a control.