BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7067.1272 (Published 16 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1272

Sixty patients with HIV infection were entered into a trial of antiretroviral treatment with or without interleukin 2, and the results after 12 months showed that in those given the interleukin the CD4 cell count rose from 428–916x106/l whereas in those given only antiretroviral drugs the count fell from 406–349x106/l (New England Journal of Medicine 1996;335:1350-6). Toxic effects such as fever, malaise, and fatigue limited the dose of interleukin 2 that could be tolerated, and the clinical effects of the treatment are still uncertain, but these are encouraging data.

A report in “Nature Genetics” (1996;14:264-8) claims the first successful prenatal diagnoses of sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia through the use of fetal cells obtained from maternal blood samples taken at 10 weeks' gestation. If, says the journal, this technique can be adapted for routine use in the laboratory it will remove one of the main problems in making prenatal diagnosis more acceptable to parents.

No cause is found for around 40% of ischaemic strokes in young people. One possibility is venous to arterial shunting through a septal defect or a patent foramen ovale allowing peripheral venous thrombi to reach the cerebral circulation (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1996;61:445-9). In a series of 210 patients …

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