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  • November 4, 2015
  • 04:50 PM

Racial Gaps in Dietary Quality Persist or Widen Nationally

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Daniel (Dong) Wang  Doctoral Student Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over … Continue reading →
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Daniel (Dong) Wang. (2015) Racial Gaps in Dietary Quality Persist or Widen Nationally. info:/

  • November 4, 2015
  • 03:26 PM

Studies Evaluates Outcomes of Carotid Artery Stenting in Real World Settings

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Soko Setoguchi-Iwata, M.D MPH Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Medicine Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Setoguchi: Medicare made a decision to cover Carotid Artery … Continue reading →
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Soko Setoguchi-Iwata, M.D MPH. (2015) Studies Evaluates Outcomes of Carotid Artery Stenting in Real World Settings. info:/

  • November 4, 2015
  • 03:13 PM

Thrombectomy or tPA for Acute Ischemic Stroke?

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Saleh A Almenawer, MD Neurosurgeon, Hamilton Health Sciences McMaster University Hamilton, ON Canada  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Almenawer: The current standard therapy for acute ischemic stroke is intravenous tissue plasminogen activator … Continue reading →
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Saleh A Almenawer, MD. (2015) Thrombectomy or tPA for Acute Ischemic Stroke?. info:/

  • November 4, 2015
  • 03:03 PM

Evelo Therapeutics Seeks To Disrupt Cancer Enabling Effects of Microbiome

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Simba Gill Ph.D CEO, Evelo Therapeutics MedicalResearch: Evelo Therapeutics, a new company focuses on leveraging the power of the microbiome to develop novel therapies for cancer. Evelo is pioneering Oncobiotic™ therapeutics, a new modality in cancer therapy … Continue reading →
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Simba Gill Ph.D. (2015) Evelo Therapeutics Seeks To Disrupt Cancer Enabling Effects of Microbiome. info:/

  • November 4, 2015
  • 01:50 PM

Brain Imaging in Diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Brain image highlighting right insula implicated in DLBRecent information has emerged concerning the suicide death of the comedian/actor Robin Williams.Autopsy results have demonstrated that Robin Williams suffered from dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).This public case demonstrates the difficulty in making a correct diagnosis of DLB prior to the findings at autopsy.In a previous post I reported on a screening tool for clinicians that appears to have some promise for screening for high-risk DLB patients.In this post, I want to follow up on this topic by reviewing a recent brain imaging study that targeted patterns of brain cortical thinning in the dementias.The key elements in the design of this research study included the following elements:Subjects: 28 subjects with prodromal DLB, 27 subjects with prodromal Alzheimer's disease (AD), 31 subjects with DLB, 54 subjects with AD and cognitively normal elderly adults.Brain Imaging: Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a 3 Tesla scannerStatistical Analysis: FreeSurfer analysis of regional cortical thickness pattern across diagnosis groups The key findings from the study included the following:DLB subjects showed distinct patterns of cortical thinning compared to ADDLB was associated with increased thinning of the right insular cortexAD was associated with left parahippocampal thinning and bilateral parietal lobe thinningIn those with full dementia, AD subjects demonstrated more thinning in the enterorhinal cortex The authors of this study note in the discussion section of the paper that the key finding is the finding of right insular cortex thinning in DLB. This finding may allow use of brain imaging as a sensitive addition to the use of clinical and neuropsychological assessment in elderly with early and later dementia.This study will need to be replicated in additional independent samples. Some research groups may already have scan data that may be able to be analyzed in an attempt to replicate the current study.Readers with more interest in the study can access the free full-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link in the citation below.Image of the right insular cortex is from a screen shot from my iPad using the Brain Tutor app.Follow me on Twitter @WRY999Blanc F, Colloby SJ, Philippi N, de Pétigny X, Jung B, Demuynck C, Phillipps C, Anthony P, Thomas A, Bing F, Lamy J, Martin-Hunyadi C, O'Brien JT, Cretin B, McKeith I, Armspach JP, & Taylor JP (2015). Cortical Thickness in Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Alzheimer's Disease: A Comparison of Prodromal and Dementia Stages. PloS one, 10 (6) PMID: 26061655... Read more »

  • November 4, 2015
  • 08:12 AM

‘Everything in Moderation’ Might Actually Increase Obesity Risk

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Dr.  Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto MD PhD Assistant professor  Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, Houston, Texas  Medical Research: What is the background for … Continue reading →
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Dr. Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto MD PhD. (2015) 'Everything in Moderation' Might Actually Increase Obesity Risk. info:/

  • November 4, 2015
  • 04:30 AM

FIFA 11 Reduces the Risk of Injuries Amongst Soccer Players

by Kyle Harris in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

The FIFA 11 is effective at reducing injuries in soccer players.... Read more »

  • November 4, 2015
  • 04:28 AM

Endocrine disruptors and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with autism spectrum disorder had significantly increased serum MEHP, DEHP, and BPA [mono-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (MEHP), di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP), and bisphenol A (BPA)] concentrations."So said the findings reported by Fatih Kardas and colleagues [1] looking at whether there may be more to see when it comes to phthalate metabolism and autism among other things. For those who might be rolling their eyes at this point, I'll draw your attention to other occasions when similar results have been reported (see here and see here) and the place that the Kardas results seem to share.This time around nearly 50 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and some 40 asymptomatic controls provided serum samples that were screened for MEHP, DEHP, and BPA. The analytical weapon of choice was high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), I assume coupled to something like UV and/or fluorescence detection. The results by group suggested that "endocrine disruptors may have a role in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders" according to the authors. I might add that we have had previous clues that this research was coming to publication [2].These are interesting results. Whilst the use of HPLC (as a separative method) is not necessarily on its own the most accurate method of assaying for such compounds (that would be coupled to something like mass spectrometry) there are some potentially important things to learn from such findings. Although it would be easy to correlate such results with something like a higher exposure to such compounds in cases of autism, I'm not ready to accept that as an explanation given the frequency with which we all come into contact with them. I'd perhaps favour a hypothesis whereby the ability to metabolise such xenobiotics is differentially affected in at least some cases of autism as per the discussions by Stein and colleagues [3]. Such a metabolic difference could be a genetic issue tied into something like all that chatter about sulphation and glucuronidation and autism down the years (see here). It could also be something a little more functional in terms of how those trillions of wee beasties that call us home (the gut microbiome) might also affect such processes [4] too given the growing interest in the microbiome in relation to autism (see here). At this point I'll also draw your attention to some similarly interesting work on how functional bowel habits and gut microbiota might be linked with some autism in mind [5].Acknowledging that autism research is still fumbling around a bit when it comes to the precise hows and whys of how environment (non-genetic factors) might fit into autism (see here) and it's relative contribution, I'm a great believer in how the technology we have at our disposal can help. The rise and rise of the various -omics and the concept of a systems biology approach with an autism slant (see here) means that we are getting better at not only analysing genetic and biological parameters but also in putting any potential connections together. Acknowledging that there may be many different types of autism (the autisms) with various different comorbidity patterns accompanying (see here), it is only a matter of time before patterns start to emerge and discussions can move on from simply genetics vs. environment.Music: The Score - Oh My Love.----------[1] Kardas F. et al. Increased Serum Phthalates (MEHP, DEHP) and Bisphenol A Concentrations in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Autism Etiopathogenesis. J Child Neurol. 2015 Oct 8. pii: 0883073815609150.[2] Kardas F. et al. P174 – 2732: Increased serum phthalates (MEHP, DEHP) and bisphenol A concentrations in children with autism: The role of endocrin disruptors in autism aetiopathogenesis. Euro J Pediatr Neurology. 2015; 19: Suppl. 1: S142-S143.[3] Stein TP. et al. Bisphenol A Exposure in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Res. 2015 Jun;8(3):272-83.[4] Rowland IR. Metabolism of Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate by the contents of the alimentary tract of the rat. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology. 1974; 12: 293-302.[5] Gabriele S. et al. Slow intestinal transit contributes to elevate urinary p-cresol level in Italian autistic children. Autism Res. 2015. October 6.----------Kardas F, Bayram AK, Demirci E, Akin L, Ozmen S, Kendirci M, Canpolat M, Oztop DB, Narin F, Gumus H, Kumandas S, & Per H (2015). Increased Serum Phthalates (MEHP, DEHP) and Bisphenol A Concentrations in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Autism Etiopathogenesis. Journal of child neurology PMID: 26450281... Read more »

  • November 3, 2015
  • 03:01 AM

Immunosuppression as a therapeutic pathway of clozapine?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our data suggest that the superior therapeutic effect of clozapine may be a result of its presently shown immunosuppressive action."So said the findings reported by Markus Larsson and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who set about investigating "the effects of chronic treatment with antipsychotic drugs on brain levels of cytokines and KYNA [kynurenic acid]" in a rat model. The rationale for the study came in part from the idea that schizophrenia (or least some schizophrenia) may show more than a passing connection to a state of inflammation (see here) as well as a link to the kynurenine pathway (see here). Whether or not antipsychotic medication might show some 'effect' on these processes is still a little up in the air.Then: "Rats were treated daily by intraperitoneally administered haloperidol (1.5 mg/kg, n = 6), olanzapine (2 mg/kg, n = 6), and clozapine (20 mg/kg, n = 6) or saline (n = 6) for 30 days." Kynurenic acid (KYNA) in brain tissue and levels of various cytokines (chemical messengers of the immune system) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were assayed for among the various groups in comparison to a control group of animals receiving saline."Clozapine, but not haloperidol or olanzapine-treated rats displayed significantly lower cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of interleukin-8 compared to controls." This is an interesting finding that needs to be treated with some caution given that aside from IL-8 all other cytokines were reported as being below the limits of detection of the analytical methods employed. Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is normally considered to be a pro-inflammatory cytokine specifically associated with acute inflammation [2]. With schizophrenia in mind, IL-8 has been tied into the whole maternal immune activation (MIA) theory of schizophrenia as per data such as those reported by Alan Brown and colleagues [3]. Brown et al reported on: "a significant association between maternal IL-8 level during the second trimester and risk of schizophrenia spectrum disorders in the offspring." More directly, IL-8 levels in relation to 'some' schizophrenia [4] have been reported in the research literature.That rats treated with clozapine showed a lower level of IL-8 than following use of the other antipsychotics has been translated by the authors as possible evidence that clozapine may have an immunosuppressive action. Granted we don't have 'before and after' data in the Larsson study so we have to be a little careful about generalisation but I do find this to be a tantalising prospect. Whilst it might not be new news to some readers that clozapine might be doing quite a bit more than we expected when it comes to its use in a condition like schizophrenia, the idea that immune function might be 'affected' by administration [5] is a new one for me. A quick survey of some of the other literature on the immuno-modulatory aspects to clozapine indeed reveals that there is something to see here. Chen and colleagues [6] for example, talked about the anti-inflammatory possibilities attached to something like clozapine.Within the various discussions about how several psychiatric labels might have an important 'inflammatory' component behind them (see here) it's not outside of the realms of possibility that the other pharmacological actions of the drug might also be complemented by such immunological alterations too. This might be a bit of a double-edged sword insofar as working out a more targeted 'use' for the drug whilst at the same time realising how complex the immune system truly is and why we should be cautious about tinkering too much with it.Music: Passenger - I'll Be Your Man.----------[1] Larsson MK. et al. Chronic Antipsychotic Treatment in the Rat - Effects on Brain Interleukin-8 and Kynurenic Acid. Int J Tryptophan Res. 2015 Sep 20;8:49-52.[2] Harada A. et al. Essential involvement of interleukin-8 (IL-8) in acute inflammation. J Leukoc Biol. 1994 Nov;56(5):559-64.[3] Brown AS. et al. Elevated maternal interleukin-8 levels and risk of schizophrenia in adult offspring. Am J Psychiatry. 2004 May;161(5):889-95.[4] Zhang XY. et al. Elevated interleukin-2, interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 serum levels in neuroleptic-free schizophrenia: association with psychopathology. Schizophr Res. 2002 Oct 1;57(2-3):247-58.[5] Røge R. et al. Immunomodulatory effects of clozapine and their clinical implications: what have we learned so far? Schizophr Res. 2012 Sep;140(1-3):204-13.[6] Chen ML. et al. Regulation of macrophage immune responses by antipsychotic drugs. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2013 Oct;35(5):573-80.----------Larsson MK, Schwieler L, Goiny M, Erhardt S, & Engberg G (2015). Chronic Antipsychotic Treatment in the Rat - Effects on Brain Interleukin-8 and Kynurenic Acid. International journal of tryptophan research : IJTR, 8, 49-52 PMID: 26448689... Read more »

Larsson MK, Schwieler L, Goiny M, Erhardt S, & Engberg G. (2015) Chronic Antipsychotic Treatment in the Rat - Effects on Brain Interleukin-8 and Kynurenic Acid. International journal of tryptophan research : IJTR, 49-52. PMID: 26448689  

  • November 2, 2015
  • 07:05 PM

Predicting what side effects you’ll experience from a drug

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a model that could be used to predict a drug’s side effects on different patients. The proof of concept study is aimed at determining how different individuals will respond to a drug treatment and could help assess whether a drug is suitable for a particular patient based on measurements taken from the patient’s blood.... Read more »

  • November 2, 2015
  • 02:16 PM

Natural antibacterial agents from the time before penicillin

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Penicillin was a game changer. It ushered in a class of drugs collectively able to treat pretty much any bacterial illness. Relative to the other antibacterials available at the time of its widespread introduction, penicillin was safe to use and cheap to produce. Prior to penicillin, antibacterial drugs were mostly developed by stringing together a bunch of slightly different compounds in a laboratory and then screening them for the ability to kill or inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. Organoarsenicals (e.g. arsphenamine used to treat syphilis) and sulfa drugs (e.g. sulfanilamide used early on in WWII before penicillin took over) were the two big classes of antibacterials to be developed in this manner. Yet these synthetic drugs only started popping up in the early 20th century. Looking further into the past, there's this vast era of human existence during which people used the natural resources available to them to stem the tide of death and injury from bacterial infections. These older antibacterial agents are the topic of this post.According to my trusty old pharmacology textbook (the first edition of Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics), an old treatment for leprosy (caused by two bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium) is something called chaulmoogra oil, which is acquired from the seeds of certain Asian trees belonging to the genus Hydnocarpus. The use of this oil against leprosy was reported by Zhu Zhenheng, a Chinese physician who practiced medicine during the 14th century. It also makes an appearance in Ayurvedic medicine. By the 19th century, it was being used in Western medicine (it's now considered obsolete). Seeing as it makes you super nauseous if you swallow it, physicians instead injected the oil under the skin. The active ingredient of chaulmoogra oil is an unsaturated fatty acid appropriately named hydnocarpic acid. Unlike most fatty acids, hydnocarpic acid contains a ring of five carbon atoms at the end of the chain of carbon atoms it's otherwise made up of. Hydnocarpic acid appears to mess with the bacteria responsible for leprosy by inhibiting the activity and/or synthesis of biotin (vitamin B7), which bacteria need to reproduce. In related news, chaulmoogra oil also contains 5'-methoxyhydnocarpin. This polyphenol boosts the action of certain plant alkaloids (e.g. berberine) against bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus). In particular, it helps the alkaloids to block multidrug resistance pumps. These proteins are used by bacteria to resist the harmful effects of antibacterial substances by pumping them out of their cells. Disabling the pumps makes bacterial infections easier to treat.Honey included in a wound dressing (Source)Honey has long been used to stave off the bacterial infection of wounds (due to burns, surgery, or trauma). The wound healing nature of honey is mentioned in texts from ancient Egypt (bees were considered sacred) and Greece (Hippocrates thought honey was great). Honey is particularly interesting because it appears to be active against otherwise drug-resistant bacteria and doesn't become the target of resistance itself. Its ability to prevent and limit the growth of bacteria once applied to a wound stems from four characteristics: (1) high sugar concentration (i.e. low water activity), (2) low pH, (3) slow yet steady hydrogen peroxide production (via glucose oxidase), and (4) unknown flower- or bee-derived antibacterial substances. One of the issues with using honey is the substantial variation among honeys from different natural environments with respect to their ability to kill bacteria. The solution to this has been the development of medical-grade honey manufactured by bees in closed greenhouses (i.e. under controlled conditions) to ensure a more consistent product.A thousand-year-old recipe for an antibacterial salve (Source)A 10th century English (Anglo-Saxon) medical textbook (entitled Bald’s Leechbook) recently yielded a recipe for an antibacterial ointment capable of offing MRSA, a widespread drug-resistant form of Staphylococcus aureus. Bald’s eyesalve was indicated for treating a “wen” in the eye. This is probably a reference to a sty, an infection of the eyelid typically caused by S. aureus. The recipe calls for garlic and another close garlic relative (the text isn't clear on which one, both onion and leek worked in the modern preparation). These were to be crushed, mixed with wine and ox gall (cow bile), and stored in a brass or bronze container for just over a week. Notably, all of the ingredients on their own (except the wine) are thought to have some antibacterial activity. Further, some of the copper (an excellent bacteria killer) from the container (brass and bronze are both copper alloys) likely leached into the salve during its storage.In Jordan, there's a long history of using red soils to treat skin infections. The soil is collected from beneath the surface and away from where people congregate, and applied daily as a paste or powder to the infected area. It's now known the soil contains several bacteria capable of making antibacterial compounds, which likely explains its utility against skin infections.To close things out, it's worth noting antibacterial use in the pre-penicillin era wasn't always intentional. If you shine a UV light on the skeletal remains of people who lived in Sudanese Nubia or near the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt during the 4th to 6th centuries, chances are they'll produce a yellow-green glow. This is because the skeleton-wearers were exposed to tetracycline during their lives. Tetracycline is an antibacterial drug produced by certain bacteria (Streptomyces species) that likes to hang out with calcium and so ends up accumulating in bone and teeth. It appears the folks with the glowing skeletons inadvertently consumed food, probably stored grains, contaminated with tetracycline-producing bacteria. This intake may have had a beneficial effect, as the Sudanese Nubian population apparently wasn't prone to infectious diseases (based on records from the time) and the bones recovered from the Dakhleh Oasis didn't show any signs of infection (e.g. bone destruction due to leprosy).ReferencesAminov RI. 2010. A brief history of the antibiotic era: Lessons learned and challenges for the future. Frontiers in Microbiology 1:134. [Full text]Falkinham JO 3rd, Wall TE, Tanner JR, Tawaha K, Alali FQ, Li C, Oberlies NH. 2009. Proliferation of antibiotic-producing bacteria and concomitant antibiotic production as the basis for the antibiotic activity of Jordan's red soils. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75(9):2735-... Read more »

  • November 2, 2015
  • 07:48 AM

A Meaty Subject...

by AG McCluskey in Zongo's Cancer Diaries

The headlines scream, "Sausages Cause Cancer!"

But what are the real risks...?... Read more »

Bouvard, V., Loomis, D., Guyton, K., Grosse, Y., Ghissassi, F., Benbrahim-Tallaa, L., Guha, N., Mattock, H., & Straif, K. (2015) Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. The Lancet Oncology. DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00444-1  

AG McCluskey. (2015) A MEaty Subject.. Zongo's Cancer Diaries. info:/

  • November 2, 2015
  • 02:57 AM

Organic diet and urinary pesticide concentrations

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Eating Organic Lowers Pesticide Levels in Children" went the headline reporting on the small study by Asa Bradman and colleagues [1] (open-access available here). Detailing what happened to urinary pesticides levels following trials of combinations of conventionally grown food consumption vs. organic food consumption over 16 days, researchers reported some potentially interesting findings.Measuring 23 metabolites "reflecting potential exposure to organophosphorous (OP), pyrethroid, and other pesticides used in homes and agriculture" via everyone's favourite analytical method (LC-MS) and specifically "tandem mass spectrometry", Bradman et al observed that: "An organic diet was significantly associated with reduced urinary concentrations of nonspecific dimethyl OP insecticide metabolites and the herbicide 2,4-D in children." If I had a beef with any part of the Bradman study outside of the fairly small participant group, it would be that the reliance of urinary excretion of pesticide residues might not necessarily show the whole story, as per what data one might get from the use of other biofluids such as blood samples too or even analysis of fat biposies (recognising how invasive these can be).These are interesting findings added to other similar research on this topic [2] looking at adults. Not only do they point to the idea that there is persistent low level exposure to pesticide residues in food but also that changes in food consumption patterns may affect such exposure events. That's not to say that food is the only way that pesticide exposure might occur, as per the findings of differences among children living in urban vs. agricultural communities (where those living in more agricultural areas generally had higher levels of some of the more frequently detected pesticide metabolites). But dietary change encompassing an organic diet did seem to lead to reductions in certain pesticide metabolite excretions irrespective of geography.Accepting the often valuable reasons why pesticides are used in the first place, I don't think many people would argue with the idea that pesticide exposure should be limited, particularly in respect of children and their developing bodies and minds [3]. Allied to the idea that organic food might also confer other benefits in terms of nutritional quality (see here) and lower levels of fairly toxic metals such as cadmium [4], there seems to be common sense in rethinking some aspects of agriculture for certain groups. That the genetics of pesticide metabolism may also play a role [4] as per discussions about PON1 (paraoxonase/arylesterase 1), is also an important point and how childhood relates to PON1 activity among other factors [5]. Indeed, to answer the question posed in another paper [6] yes, there may indeed be some benefits from an organic diet for children...Music: Adele - Rolling in the Deep.----------[1] Bradman A. et al. Effect of Organic Diet Intervention on Pesticide Exposures in Young Children Living in Low-Income Urban and Agricultural Communities. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Oct;123(10):1086-93.[2] Oates L. et al. Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet. Environ Res. 2014 Jul;132:105-11.[3] Muñoz-Quezada MT. et al. Neurodevelopmental effects in children associated with exposure to organophosphate pesticides: a systematic review. Neurotoxicology. 2013 Dec;39:158-68.[4] Barański M. et al. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):794-811.[5] Gonzalez V. et al. Cholinesterase and paraoxonase (PON1) enzyme activities in Mexican-American mothers and children from an agricultural community. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2012 Nov;22(6):641-8.[6] Vania A. et al. Is organic diet really necessary for children? Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2015, 41(Suppl 2):A75----------Bradman, A., Quirós-Alcalá, L., Castorina, R., Schall, R., Camacho, J., Holland, N., Barr, D., & Eskenazi, B. (2015). Effect of Organic Diet Intervention on Pesticide Exposures in Young Children Living in Low-Income Urban and Agricultural Communities Environmental Health Perspectives, 123 (10) DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1408660... Read more »

  • November 1, 2015
  • 07:20 PM

Statins May Dampen Efficacy of Flu Vaccination

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Saad Omer MBBS MPH PhD Associate Professor Emory Vaccine Center Associate Professor Global Health and Epidemiology Rollins School of Public Health Emory University MedicalResearch: Can you give us a little background on this study? Dr. Omer: My background is … Continue reading →
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Saad Omer MBBS MPH PhD. (2015) Statins May Dampen Efficacy of Flu Vaccination. info:/

  • November 1, 2015
  • 03:20 PM

Kids meals, toys, and TV advertising: A triple threat to child health

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Fast food companies advertise children’s meals on TV with ads that feature toy premiums, and it has been suggested that the use of these toy premiums may prompt children to request eating at fast food restaurants. In a new study, researchers found that the more children watched television channels that aired ads for children’s fast food meals, the more frequently their families visited those fast food restaurants.... Read more »

  • November 1, 2015
  • 01:18 PM

No Link Found Between Macrolide Antibiotics and Birth Defects

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Anick Bérard PhD FISPE Research chair FRQ-S on Medications and Pregnancy Director, Réseau Québécois de recherche sur le médicament (RQRM) Professor, Research Chair on Medications, Pregnancy and Lactation Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montreal Director, Research Unit … Continue reading →
The post No Link Found Between Macrolide Antibiotics and Birth Defects appeared first on
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Anick Bérard PhD FISPE. (2015) No Link Found Between Macrolide Antibiotics and Birth Defects. info:/

  • November 1, 2015
  • 12:00 PM

How one vaccine can protect you from more than one disease

by EE Giorgi in CHIMERAS

The paper I'm discussing today came out last May in Science but, as you probably noticed, I've been busy posting about other things and neglected the science aspect of the CHIMERAS blog. Apologies to my science readers.Viruses are pesky little things that have the innate ability of inserting genetic material into our cells. As such, they are capable of permanently changing our immune system: for one thing, our immune system learns to recognize the pathogen and that "memory" will be used to prevent future infections. Viruses can also alter the expression of certain genes within the infected cells, shutting off the production of proteins that would otherwise prevent the virus from replicating. Viruses that infect preferentially cells from the immune system are particularly nasty. HIV, for example, gradually depletes the host's reservoir of T-cells (the "sentinels" of the immune system) until patients die of a common infection simply because their body can no longer fight pathogens. HIV is not the only virus that attacks the immune system. Measles is another one. The virus enters cells through a receptor that's expressed on the surface of many immune cells such as dendritic cells, macrophages, and lymphocytes. All of these cells have a very important function: they retain "immune memory." What does it mean? Every time the immune system encounters a new pathogen (a virus, a bacterium, etc.), bits of proteins from the pathogens are presented to the immune cells. The immune cells create an "impression" of these proteins so that they can bind to them and destroy them. using a metaphor, they create a "mold", a special receptor that binds to the pathogen. Lots of cells with the special "mold" are created, so they can bind to the pathogen, capture it, and destroy it. A whole army of cells needs to be created in order to get rid of the million viral particles in the body, but once the infection is over and the full army is no longer needed, only a few of these cells with the special "mold" are saved. These few are the ones that preserve the memory of the specific pathogen, so that next time it enters the body it is recognized immediately and destroyed before it can start the infection. Back to the measles virus. This nasty pathogen has a special receptor that allows it to enter the cell membrane of "mature" immune cells [1], i.e. cells that carry that special "mold" for a particular pathogen. By infecting and killing those cells, the measles virus effectively erases immune memory, making the host prone to be reinfected by pathogens it has already encountered. So, on the one hand, the virus stimulates immune responses that will protect from future measles infections. On the other hand, however, it erases some of the existing defenses against other pathogens. It's called the "measles paradox." Immune memory of previous pathogens is eared and replaced by measles-specific immune responses. [2]A study published in Science last May [3] corroborated this finding by looking at child mortality data from England, Wales, the United States, and Denmark during the decades immediately preceding and following the introduction of the measles vaccine. The researchers showed that immune memory loss caused by measles infection lasted from 6 months to several years, and that vaccination against measles significantly reduced child mortality caused by non measles infections. To further corroborate their analysis, the researchers applied the same techniques to pertussis, which is also known to cause immunosuppression. This time they found no correlation with the incidence of pertussis and non-pertussis infectious disease mortality, corroborating the hypothesis that it was the measles vaccine to cause the drop in mortality. "MV infection and vaccination produce strong and durable herd immunity against subsequent epidemics. Our results thus suggest an extra dynamical twist: MV infections could also reduce population immunity against other infections in which MV immunomodulation could be envisioned as a measles-induced immune amnesia; hence, measles vaccination might also be preserving herd protection against nonmeasles infections [3]."<\blockquote>[1] Tahara, M., Takeda, M., Shirogane, Y., Hashiguchi, T., Ohno, S., & Yanagi, Y. (2008). Measles Virus Infects both Polarized Epithelial and Immune Cells by Using Distinctive Receptor-Binding Sites on Its Hemagglutinin Journal of Virology, 82 (9), 4630-4637 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02691-07[2] de Vries, R., & de Swart, R. (2014). Measles Immune Suppression: Functional Impairment or Numbers Game? PLoS Pathogens, 10 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004482[3] Mina MJ, Metcalf CJ, de Swart RL, Osterhaus AD, & Grenfell BT (2015). Long-term measles-induced immunomodulation increases overall childhood infectious disease mortality. Science (New York, N.Y.), 348 (6235), 694-9 PMID: 25954009... Read more »

  • October 31, 2015
  • 05:53 PM

Immunotherapy May Ward Off Fall Asthma Attacks in Predisposed Children

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Stephen J. Teach, MD, MPH Chair, Department of Pediatrics Children’s National Health System Washington, DC  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Teach: Inner-city children aged 6 to 17 … Continue reading →
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Stephen J. Teach, MD, MPH. (2015) Immunotherapy May Ward Off Fall Asthma Attacks in Predisposed Children. info:/

  • October 31, 2015
  • 05:40 PM

Handheld Probe Scans For Breast Cancer Without Compression or Radiation

by Marie Benz in Interview with: Anuradha Godavarty PhD and Dr. Sarah J Erickson-Bhatt PhD Dept of Biomedical Engineering, Florida International University Miami, FL Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is well known … Continue reading →
The post Handheld Probe Scans For Breast Cancer Without Compression or Radiation appeared first on
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Anuradha Godavarty PhD, & and Dr. Sarah J Erickson-Bhatt PhD. (2015) Handheld Probe Scans For Breast Cancer Without Compression or Radiation. info:/

  • October 31, 2015
  • 03:49 PM

Lack of ZZZZs may zap cell growth, brain activity

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Lack of adequate sleep can do more than just make you tired. It can short-circuit your system and interfere with a fundamental cellular process that drives physical growth, physiological adaptation and even brain activity, according to a new study. Albrecht von Arnim, a molecular biologist based in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, studied plants but said the concepts may well translate to humans.... Read more »

Missra, A., Ernest, B., Lohoff, T., Jia, Q., Satterlee, J., Ke, K., & von Arnim, A. (2015) The Circadian Clock Modulates Global Daily Cycles of mRNA Ribosome Loading. The Plant Cell, 27(9), 2582-2599. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.15.00546  

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