Medicine

Truthout – Mystery Fungal Disease Sweeping Pacific Northwest Linked to Missing Israeli Scientist

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From Truthout…researchers at Israel’s Institute for Biological Research, located in Ness-Ziona about 20 km from Tel Aviv, have worked with the Cryptococcus gatti fungus. They also report that mysterious Israeli-American scientist Joseph Moshe, 56 years old, may have conducted covert studies with the fungus while he was recently living in California. This report concerning Moshe is especially interesting because Moshe was briefly in the international spotlight in 2009 when he was the subject of a spectacular chase and arrest by the LA police department and SWAT team, assisted by the FBI, Secret Service, CIA, US Army and several other unidentified federal officials. That highly unusual arrest has never been fully explained to the media, and the whereabouts of Moshe has remained unknown since its occurrence.

Truthout / CC BY-NC 3.0

Daily Pfennig 4/27/09: US$ Benefits from the Swine Flu

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04/27/2009
A Pfennig For Your Thoughts

In This Issue…The story that is dominating the trading screens this morning is the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, and the fear of it spreading into a pandemic. The flu has jumped off the North American continent and is now a global concern, with cases being reported as far away as New Zealand. President Obama’s administration has declared a public health emergency, with cases now being reported in several U.S. states. Hopefully health officials will be able to keep the virus somewhat contained, and this won’t become as predominate as the SARS outbreak.

As most would predict, the Mexican peso has dropped significantly, moving down almost 3% vs. the US$ overnight. Fears of a global pandemic have driven investors out of the high-yielding currencies of New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. Risk aversion seems to be back in vogue, with investors moving funds back into U.S. Treasuries and the Japanese yen. I read a story over the weekend that suggested the US$ will continue to strengthen no matter what happens in the global economy. The story suggested that the US$ would increase if the administration’s efforts to stimulate our economy work, and we lead the rest of the globe into the recovery phase. On the other hand, the US$ will also strengthen if the global economy continues to weaken, as investors will purchase U.S. Treasuries as a safe haven. Continue reading at LINK

Blind to be cured with stem cells

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April 19, 2009
Blind to be cured with stem cells
Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Editor/TIMES ONLINE

BRITISH scientists have developed the world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years’ time.

The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells. It was pioneered by scientists and surgeons from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital. LINK to complete article at TIMES ONLINE

Anatomy of a brain injury – Details of gifted beauty’s precious last hours

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(excerpted from dailymail.co.uk) The Tony-award winning actress was escorted back to her hotel by a ski instructor after her accident on Monday.

But within an hour she began to complain of headaches, nausea and dizziness as a blood clot began to develop in her brain.

She lost consciousness as she was taken to the Centre Hospitalier Laurentien where her condition deteriorated rapidly.

Medical sources said that CT scans of her brain revealed a tear in the temporal artery in the left side of the brain and she was immediately transferred to Montreal’s Sacre Coeur Hospital.

She was given steroids to reduce the bleeding, but scans showed that her level of brain activity was minimal.

Doctors operated to remove the blood clot but shortly afterwards she suffered a devastating stroke when the tear to the artery widened.

She was put on a life support machine, although doctors said even then she was brain dead.

Her family later took the decision to transfer her to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, the city where the family live, so loved ones could pay their final respects before the life support machine was switched off.

Neeson is said to have sat in silence holding his wife’s hand and caressing her pale face as she was taken from the airport in New Jersey to Manhattan. LINK

Stealth Killer: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Often Give No Warning

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The medical condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is something of a stealth disorder. Patients usually have no symptoms. Neither its cause nor how to prevent it is known. More than 200,000 new AAA cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. If an aneurysm grows and ruptures, it’s fatal in 90% of the cases.

Although AAAs can affect anyone, research has uncovered some risk factors for this sneaky condition: “Patients with hypertension and a history of smoking are at greater risk for developing aneurysms,” says Gary R. Seabrook, MD, Professor of Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin. His patient care emphasis includes treatment of aortic aneurysms and arterial reconstruction. Read MORE at LINK

“Men are at least four times (maybe as high as six times) more likely to have an AAA than women,” Dr. Seabrook notes. “Aneurysms seldom develop in patients before the age of 50. Although the exact hereditary pattern is not known, aneurysms are more common in siblings and in the offspring of persons with a known aneurysm.” Ruptured aortic aneurysms rank as the 13th or 14th most common cause of death, similar to the death rates from emphysema, renal failure or homicide, he adds.

AAA Defined
What exactly is an abdominal aortic aneurysm? An aneurysm is an abnormal bulging or enlargement of a blood vessel caused by damage to or weakness in the blood vessel wall. Although aneurysms can occur in any blood vessel, they usually form in an artery. The aorta is the body’s main artery; it pumps blood from the heart to the all organs. Thus, an abdominal aortic aneurysm is one that develops in the part of the aorta that extends through the abdomen. The bulge occurs below the renal arteries that nourish the kidneys, and it may extend into the iliac (pelvis and groin) arteries into the legs.

Smokers Beware of Rupturing triple A’s

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Dear God, you should know if you smoke you may wind up with an aneurysm of your abdominal aorta. Since those who develop it are usually asymptomatic, the chances of you surviving an emergent triple A repair are less than 50/50. The condition is especially common in men from age 61 to 75, especially if you are a smoker. But you can develop the condition at any age. The playwrite who wrote RENT died at age 35 the week before his play debuted on Broadway of a ruptured AAA. If you smoke, go on Chantix and Xanax to help you quit.

Believe me, you DON’T want this!!!

Diabetes Breakthrough

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Toronto scientists cure disease in mice
Tom Blackwell, National Post
Published: Friday, December 15, 2006

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. “Mice with diabetes suddenly didn’t have diabetes any more.”

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.

But the excitement of the team from Sick Kids, whose work is being published today in the journal Cell, is almost palpable.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, an immunologist at the hospital and a leader of the studies. “In my career, this is unique.”

Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses — the body’s immune system turning on itself.

They also conclude that there are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn’s disease.

The “paradigm-changing” study opens “a novel, exciting door to address one of the diseases with large societal impact,” said Dr. Christian Stohler, a leading U.S. pain specialist and dean of dentistry at the University of Maryland, who has reviewed the work.

“The treatment and diagnosis of neuropathic diseases is poised to take a dramatic leap forward because of the impressive research.”

About two million Canadians suffer from diabetes, 10% of them with Type 1, contributing to 41,000 deaths a year.

Insulin replacement therapy is the only treatment of Type 1, and cannot prevent many of the side effects, from heart attacks to kidney failure.

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to shift glucose into the cells that need it. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin that is produced is not used effectively — something called insulin resistance — also resulting in poor absorption of glucose.

The problems stem partly from inflammation — and eventual death — of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas.

Dr. Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an “enormous” number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick — injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.

“Then we had the biggest shock of our lives,” Dr. Dosch said. Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally “It was a shock ? really out of left field, because nothing in the literature was saying anything about this.”

It turns out the nerves secrete neuropeptides that are instrumental in the proper functioning of the islets. Further study by the team, which also involved the University of Calgary and the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, found that the nerves in diabetic mice were releasing too little of the neuropeptides, resulting in a “vicious cycle” of stress on the islets.

So next they injected the neuropeptide “substance P” in the pancreases of diabetic mice, a demanding task given the tiny size of the rodent organs. The results were dramatic.

The islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone. Some have remained in that state for as long as four months, with just one injection.

They also discovered that their treatments curbed the insulin resistance that is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, and that insulin resistance is a major factor in Type 1 diabetes, suggesting the two illnesses are quite similar.

While pain scientists have been receptive to the research, immunologists have voiced skepticism at the idea of the nervous system playing such a major role in the disease. Editors of Cell put the Toronto researchers through vigorous review to prove the validity of their conclusions, though an editorial in the publication gives a positive review of the work.

“It will no doubt cause a great deal of consternation,” said Dr. Salter about his paper.

The researchers are now setting out to confirm that the connection between sensory nerves and diabetes holds true in humans. If it does, they will see if their treatments have the same effects on people as they did on mice.

Nothing is for sure, but “there is a great deal of promise,” Dr. Salter said.

Link