Frankincense as a medicine Reply

12 JUL 2012

Pharmacists of University Jena clarify the anti-inflammatory impact of boswellic acids

Jena (Germany) It was one of the gifts of the Magi – in addition to myrrh and gold they offered frankincense to the newly born baby Jesus. Since the ancient world the aromatic fragrance of burning Boswellia resin has been part of many religious ceremonies and is still used as a means to indicate special festive atmosphere in the church today. But frankincense can do much more: “The resin from the trunk of Boswellia trees contains anti-inflammatory substances,” Professor Dr. Oliver Werz of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) says. The chair of Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry is convinced that these substances can be very beneficial in therapies against diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or atopic dermatitis.

However, so far the active substances in frankincense cannot at present be found in drugs in German pharmacies, as the pharmacological impact of frankincense hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. “Although Boswellia resin has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic medicine for instance, the clinical studies we have so far are not suffice for a license in Germany and Europe,” Professor Werz explains. More…

Millions of diabetics could die of tuberculosis Reply

12 JUL 2012

Public Health Risk

A third of the world’s human population is infected with a dormant tuberculosis bacteria, primarily people living in developing countries. The bacteria presents a lifelong TB risk. Recent research out of the University of Copenhagen demonstrates that the risk of tuberculosis breaking out is four times as likely if a person also suffers from diabetes. Meanwhile, as a diabetic, a person is five times as likely to die during tuberculosis treatment. The growing number of diabetics in Asia and Africa increases the likelihood that more people will succumb to and die from tuberculosis in the future.

A research group from the Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen has just completed a major research project in Tanzania in which they have documented that diabetes is far more widespread than previously thought.

Diabetes hastily advancing in developing countries

The risk of dying from tuberculosis is increased if a person also has diabetes. In the past, diabetes was most commonly associated with the Western world while tuberculosis was more widespread throughout the developing world.

“Our studies show, firstly, that diabetes is hastily advancing in developing countries, not just in Asia, but in Africa as well. And secondly, that as a diabetic one is four times more at risk of developing tuberculosis and five times as likely to die under tuberculosis treatment,” reports PhD student and physician Daniel Faurholt-Jepsen who has written his doctoral dissertation on the basis of the study. More…

Iron supplements can reduce fatigue in nonanemic women Reply

Clinical trial shows 50 percent reduction in fatigue from baseline in participants

Iron supplementation reduced fatigue by almost 50% in women who are low in iron but not anemic, according to the results of a clinical trial published July 9 in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

“We found that iron supplementation for 12 weeks decreased fatigue by almost 50% from baseline, a significant difference of 19% compared with placebo, in menstruating iron-deficient nonanemic women with unexplained fatigue and ferritin levels below 50 μg/L,” writes Dr. Bernard Favrat, Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, with coauthors. More…

Drug from Mediterranean weed kills tumor cells in mice – Thapsia garganica Reply

Just a three-day course  reduced the size of human prostate tumors grown in mice by an average of 50 percent within 30 days

‘Molecular grenade’ now in clinical trials for advanced cancer

12 JUL 2012

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, working with Danish researchers, have developed a novel anticancer drug designed to travel — undetected by normal cells — through the bloodstream until activated by specific cancer proteins. The drug, made from a weedlike plant, has been shown to destroy cancers and their direct blood supplies, acting like a “molecular grenade,” and sparing healthy blood vessels and tissues.

In laboratory studies, researchers said they found that a three-day course of the drug, called G202, reduced the size of human prostate tumors grown in mice by an average of 50 percent within 30 days. In a direct comparison, G202 outperformed the chemotherapy drug docetaxel, reducing seven of nine human prostate tumors in mice by more than 50 percent in 21 days. Docetaxel reduced one of eight human prostate tumors in mice by more than 50 percent in the same time period. More…

H1N1 vaccine associated with small but significant risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome Reply

12 JUL 2012

Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is usually characterized by rapidly developing motor weakness and areflexia (the absence of reflexes). “The disease is thought to be autoimmune and triggered by a stimulus of external origin. In 1976-1977, an unusually high rate of GBS was identified in the United States following the administration of inactivated ‘swine’ influenza A(H1N1) vaccines. In 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that the evidence favored acceptance of a causal relationship between the 1976 swine influenza vaccines and GBS in adults. Studies of seasonal influenza vaccines administered in subsequent years have found small or no increased risk,” according to background information in the article. “In a more recent assessment of epidemiologic studies on seasonal influenza vaccines, experimental studies in animals, and case reports in humans, the IOM Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines concluded that the evidence was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship.” More…

Moderate drinking may reduce risk of rheumatoid arthritis Reply

12 JULY 2012

3 drinks per week can halve the risk of developing the condition

Research: Long term alcohol intake and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women: a population based cohort study

Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, suggests a study published on bmj.com today.

The results show that women who regularly consume more than three alcoholic drinks a week for at least 10 years have about half the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared with non-drinkers. More…

In clinical trial, nutrient mixture developed at MIT improves memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s 1

Nutrient mixture improves memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s

A graphic depicting a synapse, a connection between brain cells. Photo – Graphic: Christine Daniloff

Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

July 9, 2012

A clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s disease treatment developed at MIT has found that the nutrient cocktail can improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s. The results confirm and expand the findings of an earlier trial of the nutritional supplement, which is designed to promote new connections between brain cells. Alzheimer’s patients gradually lose those connections, known as synapses, leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. The supplement mixture, known as Souvenaid, appears to stimulate growth of new synapses, says Richard Wurtman, the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor Emeritus at MIT, who invented the nutrient mixture. “You want to improve the numbers of synapses, not by slowing their degradation — though of course you’d love to do that too — but rather by increasing the formation of the synapses,” Wurtman says. To do that, Wurtman came up with a mixture of three naturally occurring dietary compounds: choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Choline can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals.

Uridine is produced by the liver and kidney, and is present in some foods as a component of RNA. These nutrients are precursors to the lipid molecules that, along with specific proteins, make up brain-cell membranes, which form synapses. To be effective, all three precursors must be administered together. Results of the clinical trial, conducted in Europe, appear in the July 10 online edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The new findings are encouraging because very few clinical trials have produced consistent improvement in Alzheimer’s patients, says Jeffrey Cummings, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “Memory loss is the central characteristic of Alzheimer’s, so something that improves memory would be of great interest,” says Cummings, who was not part of the research team. More…

Doctors overlook chemical illnesses, study finds Reply

Sufferers seek out health care more often than others

SAN ANTONIO (July 10, 2012) — Chemical intolerance contributes to the illnesses of 1 in 5 patients but the condition seldom figures in their diagnosis, according to clinical research directed by a UT Medicine San Antonio physician.

Clinical tools are available to identify chemical intolerance but health care practitioners may not be using them, lead author David Katerndahl, M.D., M.A., said. The study is in the July 9 issue of Annals of Family Medicine. UT Medicine is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

Avoidance of triggers

The study’s authors said physicians need to know how chemical intolerance affects certain people and understand that conventional therapies can be ineffective. Some patients would improve by avoiding certain chemicals, foods and even medical prescriptions, the authors said.

Patients with chemical intolerance go to the doctor more than others, are prone to having multi-system symptoms and are more apt to have to quit their job due to physical impairment, the authors said.

90-question survey More…

Dangerous caregivers for elderly Reply

12 July 2012

Agencies place unqualified, possibly criminal caregivers in homes of vulnerable seniors

CHICAGO — If you hire a caregiver from an agency for an elderly family member, you might assume the person had undergone a thorough criminal background check and drug testing, was experienced and trained for the job.

You’d be wrong in many cases, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

A troubling new national study finds many agencies recruit random strangers off Craigslist and place them in the homes of vulnerable elderly people with dementia, don’t do national criminal background checks or drug testing, lie about testing the qualifications of caregivers and don’t require any experience or provide real training.

“People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency,” said lead study author Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It’s dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired.”

(See Lindquist’s “10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Caregiver” below.) More…

Hormone-mimicking chemicals cause inter-species mating Reply

12 JUL 2012

BPA in rivers leads to breakdown of fish species barriers

Hormone-mimicking chemicals released into rivers have been found to impact the mating choices of fish, a new study has revealed. The controversial chemical BPA, which emits oestrogen-like properties, was found to alter an individual’s appearance and behavior, leading to inter-species breeding. The study, published in Evolutionary Applications, reveals the threat to biodiversity when the boundaries between species are blurred.

The research, led by Dr Jessica Ward from the University of Minnesota, focused on the impact of Bisphenol A (BPA) on Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta) and Red Shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) fish which are found in rivers across the United States. BPA is an organic compound used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics. It is currently banned from baby bottles and childrens’ cups in 11 U.S. states.

“Chemicals from household products and pharmaceuticals frequently end up in rivers and BPA is known to be present in aquatic ecosystems across the United States,” said Ward. “Until now studies have primarily focused on the impact to individual fish, but our study demonstrates the impact of BPA on a population level.” More…

Early-life exposure to chemical in drinking water may affect vision, study finds Reply

Early-life exposure to chemical in drinking water may affect vision, study finds

(BOSTON) — Prenatal and early childhood exposure to the chemical solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) found in drinking water may be associated with long-term visual impairments, particularly in the area of color discrimination, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers has found.

The study by epidemiologists and biostatisticians at BUSPH, working with an ophthalmologist from the BU School of Medicine, found that people exposed to higher levels of PCE from gestation through age 5 exhibited poorer color-discrimination abilities than unexposed people. The study, published July 11 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, recommends further investigation into the visual impairments associated with PCE exposure. More…

Air in expectant moms’ homes contains pesticides, border study finds Reply

Low-cost, less-toxic control methods urged

HARLINGEN, Texas (July 11, 2012) — Air samples from homes of Hispanic mothers-to-be along the Texas-Mexico border contained multiple pesticides in a majority of the houses, according to a study conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

All the women were in the third trimester of pregnancy, when the fetal brain undergoes a growth spurt. Several studies have reported that pesticide exposure may adversely affect mental and motor development during infancy and childhood. The new report is in the summer issue of the Texas Public Health Journal sent to members this week.

Two-thirds of the families surveyed said they used pest control methods to kill cockroaches, rodents and other pests. Pregnant women and infants often spend 90 percent of their day indoors.

“There is a lack of education in our communities regarding the health hazards of these toxic pest control methods,” said lead author Beatriz Tapia, M.D., M.P.H., lecturer at the UT Health Science Center — Regional Academic Health Center campus in Harlingen, located 10 miles from the border. “We should concentrate on trying to educate families about low-cost methods that prevent infestations and use the least toxic pest control methods first.”

A wise alternative

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a low-cost strategy to replace the use of residential pesticides, Dr. Tapia said. IPM focuses on installing screens and caulking doors and windows to keep out pests, putting away food and placing boric acid, a low-impact alternative, in walls. More…

Toward new drugs for the human and non-human cells in people Reply

” bodies contain 10 percent human cells and 90 percent microbes” 

12 JUL 2012

Amid the growing recognition that only a small fraction of the cells and genes in a typical human being are human, scientists are suggesting a revolutionary approach to developing new medicines and treatments to target both the human and non-human components of people. That’s the topic of an article, which reviews work relating to this topic from almost 100 studies, in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research.

Liping Zhao, Jeremy K. Nicholson and colleagues explain that human beings have been called “superorganisms” because their bodies contain 10 percent human cells and 90 percent microbes that live mainly in the intestines. “Super” in that sense means “above and beyond.” Scientists thus are viewing people as vast ecosystems in which human, bacterial, fungal and other cells interact with each another. Microbes, for instance, release substances that determine whether human genes turn on or off and influence the immune system’s defenses against disease. And populations of microbes in the body change with changes in diet, medications and other factors. More…

Veterinary vaccines found to combine into new viruses, resulting in disease outbreaks Reply

Veterinary vaccines found to combine into new viruses, prompting regulatory response

Research from the University of Melbourne has shown that two different vaccine viruses- used simultaneously to control the same condition in chickens- have combined to produce new infectious viruses, prompting early response from Australia’s veterinary medicines regulator.

The vaccines were used to control infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), an acute respiratory disease occurring in chickens worldwide. ILT can have up to 20% mortality rate in some flocks and has a significant economic and welfare impact in the poultry industry.

The research found that when two different ILT vaccine strains were used in the same populations, they combined into two new strains (a process known as recombination), resulting in disease outbreaks.

Neither the ILT virus or the new strains can be transmitted to humans or other animals, and do not pose a food safety risk.

The study was led by Dr Joanne Devlin, Professor Glenn Browning and Dr Sang-Won Lee and colleagues at the Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health at the University of Melbourne and NICTA’s Victoria Research Laboratory and is published today [13 July, 2012] in the international journal Science.

Dr Devlin said the combining of live vaccine virus strains outside of the laboratory was previously thought to be highly unlikely, but this study shows that it is possible and has led to disease outbreaks in poultry flocks.

“We alerted the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to our findings and they are now working closely with our research team, vaccine registrants and the poultry industry to determine both short and long term regulatory actions,” she said. More…

Chemicals in personal care products may increase risk of diabetes in women up to 70 percent Reply

12 JUL 2012

Brigham and Women’s Hospital study is the first to examine an association between phthalates and diabetes in a large population of American women

Boston, MA – A study lead by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) shows an association between increased concentrations of phthalates in the body and an increased risk of diabetes in women. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products such as moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes. They are also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products. This finding is published in the July 13, 2012 online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives

Researchers, lead by Tamarra James-Todd, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Women’s Health at BWH, analyzed urinary concentrations of phthalates in 2,350 women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that women with higher levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to have diabetes. Specifically: More…

Unexpected drug can almost totally regenerate the Liver Reply


Unexpected drug can almost totally regenerate the Liver
– The novel inhibitor limited the deposition of complement proteins and promoted the division of new liver cells. Even after removal of as much as 90% of the liver, treatment increased survival from 0% in untreated animals to an impressive 70%.
* Marshall, K.M., et al. 2014. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20131902 More…