Christmas this year was a calling to thousands of NBA fans that, yes, there is going to be a season. During the Lakers vs. Bulls games the commentator began discussing Kobe’s knee treatment. The procedure involved centrifuging the patients blood and using the serum as an anti-inflammatory drug. Tracy McGrady reportedly recommended the therapy to Kobe who has now passed the knowledge on to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. Even before the season began I remember Derek Fisher mentioning that Kobe’s knee was better than ever. I’ve been wondering how the procedure works since the game, so lets take a look at it.
Orthokine therapy was designed by Dr. Peter Wehling of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has treated numerous influential figures including Pope John Paul III (guess the holy powers didn’t work to well here). Dr. Wehling has reported a 90% success rate for the procedure, and proclaims it is a long term cure to inflammation and its resulting pain. To ESPN he reported “I am the only one to have found a way to cure arthiritis.” Along with his clinic in Germany, Wehling has also opened an outpost in Los Angeles, where he deals with ” a very small and exclusive clientele.” So how exactly does the procedure work? Well here we go.
The therapy focuses primarily on Interleukin-1. IL-1 plays a part in a wide variety of metabolic processes, specifically in immune and inflammatory response. IL-1 binds to specific cytokine receptors to induce inflammation. It is also known to play a role in disc degeneration, osteoarthritis, and the breakdown of the cartilage in joints. Thus the doctor’s focus was to stop this receptor mediated pathway via an antagonist protein. IL-1RA was that antagonist. The protein is produced by white blood cells (monocytes) and blocks Il-1 from binding to its receptor to significantly reduce inflammation. In Dr. Wehlings procedure blood is drawn from the arm by a special syringe in which glass beads induce monocytes to increase the growth of Il-1RA by up to 30x. The solution is placed in an incubator to further induce protein synthesis and the final solution is centrifuged so that the serum of interest may be separated. The final solution is injected into the area of interest, and it seems to be working pretty well, at least for Kobe Bryant.
Hopefully the technique is further developed and can become more widely used as a potent solution for the problems caused by osteoarthritis, something many of us will face one day, unfortunately.
A synthetic version of the camouflage mechanism could be injected into the patients, which would teach our immune system to identify HIV and neutralize it. This idea has been devised into a candidate vaccine and is being evaluated in animals and possibly in humans within two years. The research is led by Ben Davis, Professor of Organic Chemistry at University of Oxford and is the latest breakthrough in AIDS research.
Moreover, the largest candidate vaccine trial in Thailand indicated that an agent, RV144, can reduce the chances of acquiring an HIV infection by a third. Although the results and statistical significance were small, this discovery may help us immunize people against the virus and ensures that it is possible to do so.
Another research published last month also provided some breakthrough in AIDS research as they identified two antibodies, which neutralize a wide range of HIV strains. These antibodies maybe used in designing the vaccines that are far more effective than the RV144.
However, Professor Davis offers a novel method in combating HIV through creation of improved vaccines using the field of synthetic biology. The scientists are pursuing to recreate natural molecules with slight modifications in hope that they would be pathologically useful. When HIV binds to the T-cells of the immune system, it uses a surface molecule, glycoprotein 120 (GP-120) in order to infect them. Although most of the GP-120 mutates quickly, one segment of it always remains uniform, the silent face. The silent face could be a key target for antibodies produced by vaccines. The silent face is invisible to human immune system because it is coated by sugars which are too complicated for antibodies of the immune system to distinguish and remove. “The virus uses this trick to decorate itself with what is effectively camouflage. It has a cloak of invisibility, as it were,” said Professor Davis. In most patients, as the silent face goes uncovered, the immune system does not produce antibodies against it; however, in one patient an antibody has been discovered, 2G12.
Davis’s team formulated synthetic sugars which surround the virus’s silent face and slightly altered it so that it would be easy for the immune system to identify it. Through lab tests, researchers discovered that 2G12 antibody binds to these synthetic molecules, concluding that they should prepare and teach the body to make these antibodies. “We’ve done the whole thing with chemistry,” he said. “We’ve built constructs that look like the silent face, but which the body recognizes as being unnatural. We hope it will create an immune response. We’re turning the virus’s shield into its Achilles’ heel. If we can build something that elicits antibodies towards the silent face, we could have a vaccine against HIV.”
In order to test the synthetic silent face molecules, 30 different ones have been created which are implemented in rabbits to reveal whether or not their body would encourage the production of antibodies to fight the silent face. The results should be available within three to six months.
Remaining hopeful, Professor Davis said, “As soon as one shows neutralizing properties, we hope within two years we could see it in people.”]]>
British researchers discovered that removal of a gene associated with nutrients and growth allowed the mice to increase their lifespan by 20 percent, justifying why eating less is better for your health and can increase longevity. A drug that could target this specific gene can also combat aging-related diseases.
“What we have shown is that this gene is one that regulates life span and also determines how healthy animals are in middle and late age,” said Dominic Withers of the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at University College London.
The mice were bred by removing the ribosomal S6 protein kinase 1 (S6K1) gene that allowed their bodies to conduct in a “similar way to mammals whose calorie intake is restricted,” said the researchers.
“These mice were resistant to type 2 diabetes … and they also appeared to have reduced incidence of the mouse-equivalent of osteoporosis — so they had stronger bones,” Withers said.
Not only were the mice treated by an experimental condition that enable them to live longer, but they also had improved balance, strength, coordination, suggesting a healthier brain. “Our results demonstrate that S6K1 influences healthy mammalian life span,” the researchers wrote in their study.
In the past, studies about calorie restrictions have discovered that eating less does have long-term benefits and many researchers are hoping to replicate their findings in people through drugs. Withers knew of many pharmaceutical companies attempting to manipulate the S6K1 pathway, hoping that it would prevent age-related diseases, if the treatment or drug were safe.
A similar gene, the AMP-activated protein kinase, AMPK was also on the same pathway as S6K1, suggesting that current drugs which target the AMPK may also produce similar results of increased longevity and improved health. Metformin, a common diabetes drug which stimulates the AMPK, could be used to test this hypothesis.
However, since there is a difference between lifespan of mice and human beings, researchers are uncertain about the extent to which the drugs would affect human health and lifespan. But the researchers remain hopeful as Withers said that the study has been conducted in mice and monkeys and has the potential to offer clues into the human functions.
“The big implication is that intervening in aging protects against a broad spectrum of aging-related diseases, and there is now a druggable pathway providing a means to do this which could be used, in principle, in people,” he said.]]>
The study include 1,169 subjects both nondiabetic men and women who had been previously hospitalized for their first heart attack. The subjects had to fill out a uniform health questionnaire, which had questions regarding chocolate consumptions within the past 12 months. Chocolate, through previous researches, has been known to contain flavonoid antioxidants that are presumed to be beneficial for cardiovascular diseases.
Three months after being discharged from the hospital, the patients were involved in health examinations and were followed by researchers for the next eight months. The researchers also used the Swedish national registries of hospitalization and deaths in order to examine their patient’s activities within those eight months. In order to legitimize the study and ensure that the consumption of chocolate was causing the increase in survival rate, researchers had to control age, sex, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, education, and other factors.
However, before concluding that this study shows a cause and effect correlation, we must scrutinize the study’s weaknesses. The fact that the study was observational and not randomized suggests that we cannot ascertain that it was cause and effect. Although researchers had considered many other factors, they had not accounted for the idea of placebo effect. It may be that the increase in survival rate was due to the improvement in mental health caused by chocolate consumption. Moreover, the scientists also did not examine what type of chocolate the patients were consuming; milk chocolate is known to have less flavonoid than dark chocolate. Though the chocolate consumption showed an increase in survival of patients who had suffered from a heart attack, it did not confirm a reduction in risk for nonfatal cardiac events.
The study does have many factors that could invalidate the results; however, Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health a Yale believed that the study was “an interesting element, following a group of adults who’ve had a heart attack and noting an impressive reduction in cardiac deaths.”
Another interesting component of the study was that as the patients consumed more chocolate, their risk of death decreased. Compared to the patients who consumed no chocolate, those who ate it less than once a month had a 27 percent reduction in risk of cardiac death; those who ate it once a week had a 44 percent reduction, while those who ate it twice or more a week had a remarkable 66 percent reduced in risk for cardiac death.
According to Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, there has been tons of data suggesting that chocolate lowered blood pressure, which might be the reason why there was a decrease in risk of cardiac death in this particular study.
Dr. Katz said, “I like the study. It adds to the general fund of knowledge we already have.”
However, before we all begin replacing health snacks with chocolate, Dr. Mukamal suggested a note of caution, “Although this is interesting and provocative, chocolate does not come without costs. For people looking for a small snack to finish a meal, this is a great choice. But it should be supplementing healthy eating and replacing less healthy snacks.”]]>
Within 90 minutes five of the teachers became ill and reported symptoms to authorities. The brownies tested positive for cannabinoids and after seeking medical advice two of the teachers were also tested positive for THC, an active substance in marijuana.
“They didn’t know they were eating pot brownies, so it’s not the same symptoms as someone who deliberately ate them at a party and got high,” Ms. Fogleman, one of the teachers reported.
The teachers eventually recovered and the sidewalk vendor also disappeared after making a meager $1.50 for each brownie.
…wonder how the teacher didn’t realize she was buying a stash of ‘special’ brownies.]]>
A research of fifty showerheads from nine different U.S. cities showed that about 15 showerheads or 30 percent of them contained high levels of Mycobacterium avium which when inhaled or consumed cause lung infections. These researchers from University of Colorado stated that the amount of Mycobacterium avium found in these showerheads was almost 100 times higher than the number found in household water.
Norman Pace, a researcher, stated, “If you are getting a face full of water when you first turn your shower on, that means you are probably getting a particularly high load of Mycobacterium avium, which may not be too healthy.”
Mycobacterium avium causes pulmonary diseases, which exhibit many common symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, and lasting drug cough. It usually attacks people with deteriorated immune system, but it may sometimes infect others that are healthy.
Pace believes that the increase in pulmonary diseases from “non-tuberculosis” mycobacteria may be caused by people engaging in more showers and fewer baths. As the showerhead sprays out the water, droplets filled with pathogens linger within the air causing one to inhale the pathogens into the deepest parts of their lungs. The Mycobacterium avium are able to survive within the showerheads because of the warm, dim, and moist insides where the bacteria are able to form “biofilms.”
Although this might have little to no effect on healthy people, researchers recommend people with deteriorated immune systems to use metal showerheads and replace them as frequently as possible. “This really shouldn’t concern average, healthy people. The main concern is for people who are immune-compromised,” researcher Leah Feazel told Reuters Health.]]>
Those who have acquired trichomoniasis, an STD caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, were slightly more likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to those who were not affected by this STD. However, more importantly, the study suggests that the STD might result in a formation of a more aggressive prostate cancer as Lorelei A. Mucci, epidemiologist and co-author of the study states that “they were nearly three times as likely to die of the disease once they had prostate cancer. Our finding suggests that infection may make prostate cancers more aggressive and more likely to progress. ”
The study included analysis of 673 men who developed prostate cancer and 673 men who did not. The patients were also examined to see if other environmental factors were affecting the results such as age or smoking status. Some of the 673 men who developed prostate cancer had an account of trichomoniasis as confirmed by their blood samples.
A previous study done by Mucci and his colleagues on Sept. 9 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also reported similar findings: a link between STD trichomoniasis and aggressive prostate cancer.
Although the two studies had similar results, there are many doubts as the aggression of prostate cancer could be caused by inflammation, which is the result of an infection. Moreover, previous studies have not found a link between STDs and prostate cancer; however, these studies did not have the lengthy and scrutinizing follow-up like the newer studies, according to Durado Brook, MD, MPH and director of prostate cancer at the American Cancer Society.
“We can say from this study that there may be a link between this sexually transmitted infection and more aggressive prostate cancer, but more research is needed to confirm this,” he says. However, researchers remain hopeful as an affirmation of this link can provide insight into the aggression level of prostate cancers.]]>
These genetic variants were discovered by Julie Williams of Cardiff University in Wales who scanned genomes of around 19,000 patients. Two variants apparently showed up consistently, making it statistically significant in involvement with the disease. Another study conducted by Philippe Amouyel of University of Lille in France also found two variants, one of which was the same one Williams’s team discovered. The fact that both the studies agreed upon one gene, confirms the reliability of the experiment and its significance in association with the disease. “More than 550 genes have been proposed in various small-scale studies as the cause of Alzheimer’s, but all have failed the test of replication by others,” Dr. Amouyel said.
This particular research is one of the largest study conducted on Alzheimer’s as it uses around a copious number of patients and a new technique called genome-wide association study, in which the device scans the DNA of the patients and is programmed to recognize about half a million locations of variation on the genome.
The new variant discovered is located in a gene that is active at the synapses (junction between brain cells) and the other two tend to damp down inflammation in the brain. Many believe inflammation to be the effect of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Williams stated that, “the detection of the new variants, which undercut the brain’s efforts to restrain inflammation, suggested inflammation might play a primary role.”
Just a quick history fact: Dr. Allen Roses of Duke University discovered a variant, ApoE4 that had the most influence on Alzheimer’s in 1993.]]>
As of now the group at the University of Maryland conducting the study has found no evidence towards a new formation of the 2009 H1N1 or a combination of it with any seasonal flu virus. Researchers suggest that the H1N1 virus will probably dominate the flu season this year, and may not become biologically pressured to re-combine with other circulating viruses to create a newer more lethal strain. Other groups worry that the virus will restructure itself, regardless, if mass amounts of Tamiflu and vaccinations are handed out to the public.
Researchers inoculated ferrets with the 2009 H1N1 virus and also either the seasonal H1N1 or the seasonal H3N2, creating a co-infection within the animals. Interestingly, the 2009 H1N1 viral strain was the only one that transferred from infected to uninfected ferrets. “The H1N1 pandemic virus has a clear biological advantage over the two main seasonal flu strains and all the makings of a virus fully adapted to humans,” says Dr. Perez from the University of Maryland.
“The results suggest that 2009 H1N1 influenza may outcompete seasonal flu virus strains and may be more communicable as well. These new data, while preliminary, underscore the need for vaccinating against both seasonal influenza and the 2009 H1N1 influenza this fall and winter,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Researchers also noted that some ferrets infected with the ‘swine’ flu developed intestinal illnesses and respiratory problems making it more lethal than the seasonal flu.
Due to this ‘biological advantage’ it may be highly unlikely for the H1N1 to mutate. The virus is well adapted to humans and is outperforming other strains, it has no reason to mutate.
For more information regarding the 2009 H1N1 Influenza ‘Swine Flu’ be sure to read our complete overview on the virus including information on its nomenclature and pandemic risks. Click Here]]>
The disorder occurs because the connective tissue under the palm tightens and toughens. Simple things such as picking up something, putting on gloves, or shaking hands can become difficult tasks. Currently, this new drug could be an alternative to surgery for 13.5 to 27 million people in United States and Europe suffering from Dupuytren’s contracture. It is a genetic condition, which is present within 3 to 6 percent of all Caucasian. As thick threads of collagen form deep in the hand, they move upward (from palm) and connect to one or more finger, causing them to curve. The twisting can range from mild to severe as it may cause the finger to lose dexterity (30-degree angle curvature).
The exact cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is a mystery; however, certain factors are known to increase one’s risk of acquiring the disorder. Heredity is one factor that passes on the disorder through families. Tobacco and alcohol use are linked to increasing risk of Dupuytren’s contracture as it might cause small changes within blood vessels. Patients with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes are known to have tissue lumps on their palms. However, their condition is usually mild and does not lead to finger contraction.
Some common symptoms of Duputren’s contracture are thickening of the skin on the palm, formation of cords of tissues that extend to your fingers and lump of tissues (usually firm) on your palm.
The current treatment for this disorder is an “extensive hand surgery” as described by Badalamente, “Right now, the gold standard for treatment of patients with this condition is surgery, and it’s a fairly extensive hand surgery.”
Because of this revolutionizing research, FDA is fast-tracking the enzyme-based drug, collagenase which will be presented to the FDA review committee on September 16.
Auxillium Pharmaceuticals Inc. produced the collagenase for Stony Brook research and have named it Xiaflex. Since there are no medications available for Duputren’s contraction, this is considered to be a striking discovery.
According to Dr. Lawrence Hurst, chief of orthopedics at Stony Brook University and co-developer of the drug, the collagenase will dissolve the excess collagen in just one or two injections. It can also treat “frozen shoulder,” which is an orthopedic condition that may result in the loss of arm and rid chubby thighs of cellulite.
In a study conducted by Hurst and Badalmented, about 64 percent of 308 patients “had full extension of contorted joints within 30 days.”]]>