From the 22 April 2013 article
Early trials suggest a host of allergies and autoimmune ailments could be treated with worm therapy, or infection with live worm-like parasites. But will it ever reach the clinic?
Jim Turk initially put his symptoms down to stress. The self-described “health nut” who was in training to run marathons suddenly found himself unable to jog for more than a couple of minutes before coming to a gasping, staggering halt. His speech began to slur. Turk, then in his early thirties, blamed the combined pressures of juggling a full-time job, studying for a master’s degree and his parenting responsibilities. When he collapsed in the middle of a baseball field one sunny afternoon in 2008 while coaching his son’s team, he realised it was time to seek help.
At the hospital, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans revealed plaques peppered throughout Turk’s brain and spine. The diagnosis was obvious: multiple sclerosis, the autoimmune condition in which the body eats away at its own nerve cell casings. The cure: not known yet.
A month later, Turk saw an ad on the news seeking multiple sclerosis patients to try out an unusual new treatment at the University of Wisconsin, in his hometown of Madison. Patients were being asked to infect themselves with live pig whipworm eggs to see if the parasites alleviated any of their symptoms or slowed the spread of telltale brain and spine lesions. “I’ve always had a research interest so I decided to put my money where my mouth is,” Turk says. “Plus I was terrified and didn’t know what to do.”
When Turk arrived at the clinic, John Fleming, a professor of neurology, presented him with a vial of clear liquid. “It tasted a little bit salty but otherwise it was just water,” says Turk. “I couldn’t see the eggs or anything.”
For the next three months, he and four others visited the lab every two weeks to swallow doses of 2,500 parasite eggs. At the start of the trial, MRI scans showed patients had an average of 6.6 active lesions – scars on the protective layer around nerve cells that disrupt the transmission of electrical messages in the brain and spinal cord. By the end of the study, that number had dropped to two. Two months after discontinuing the worm treatment, the lesions rebounded to an average of 5.8. “The beauty of this is that the number of new lesions is really an objective, brutally honest answer,” Fleming says. “It’s not proof, it’s not definitive, but at least it’s promising.”………..
- Shrinkage of Brain Region May Signal Onset of Multiple Sclerosis (news.health.com)
- Parasitic worms ‘treat diarrhoea’. (zedie.wordpress.com)
- Take Two Poop Worms and Call Me in the Morning (motherboard.vice.com)
- Qld researchers’ cartoon fights off parasitic worm (abc.net.au)
- Intestinal Parasites (odinoid.com)
- Intestinal Worms as Clinical Treatment for Bowel Diseases (kingofthrones.wordpress.com)
- How Bone-Eating Zombie Worms Drill Through Whale Skeletons (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)
- Parasite Worm a Medical Breakthrough? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Worms detected by converted iPhone microscope (bbc.co.uk)
Am wondering if murder, planning to murder, and domestic violence are brain disorders…
If so, or even probably so, this is a real wake up call for prison reform…
From the 23 April 2013 item at the National Institute of Mental Health
A rethink is needed in terms of how we view mental illness, stated National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a recent TEDx talkat the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.
Deaths from medical causes such as leukemia and heart disease have decreased over the past 30 years. The same cannot be said of the suicide rate, which has remained the same. A vast majority of suicides—90 percent—are related to mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.
Insel believes part of the problem is that mental illness is referred to either as a mental or behavioral disorder. “We need to think of these as brain disorders,” he said, adding that for these brain disorders, behavior is the last thing to change.
Insel walked the audience through recent advances in neuroscience, including the Human Connectome, which indicates that mental illness may be more of a neuronal connection or circuit disorder. The earlier these circuits are identified, he said, the earlier preventive treatments could be used to save the lives of people with mental illnesses.
“If we waited for the ‘heart attack,’ we would be sacrificing 1.1 million lives every year in this country,” he said. “That is precisely what we do today when we decide that everyone with one of these brain disorders, brain circuit disorders, has a behavior disorder. We wait until the behavior emerges. That’s not early detection, that’s not early prevention.”
- Toward A New Understanding of Mental Illness (thesecretkeeper.net)
- A Break From Politics: Toward a new understanding of mental illness (freakoutnation.com)
- Once, people suffering from a mental illness were hidden … (jillsmentalhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- What Does It Really Mean for Me to Have a Mental Illness? (thedancingwriterblog.wordpress.com)
- Vaughan Bell: news from the borders of mental illness (guardian.co.uk)
- Mental Health Awareness Month (irishdragon7.wordpress.com)
- Medical Brain Disorders~The Benefits of Exercise (keepchoosingconsistency.com)
From Failure to Listen -Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified, January 26, 2013
I have many theories on how to empower communities but understanding the genetic-environmental interplay is key. Frameworks that simplify these complex interactions can have a powerful impact in explaining the pivotal role of early childhood development and education in building healthy foundations.
The first five years are the most important, those are the years when important brain circuits develop (like roots from a tree) or some circuits remain dormant or die. Although the ability to learn continues way into “old age;” the stronger the circuits developed the more pertinent they become in guiding our behavior. These are the years we develop the foundation on which we build our identities.
The formative years begin at birth as our bodies grow and our brain develop. This is the time to make the greatest impact; ‘Pay now or pay a lot more later!’
For us to survive as a country or a society, children need to become the center of our policies. We need to bring back communities by sharing a common vision, and pooling our resources to help those in the community.
The individualistic thinking of me and my accomplishments ignores that we live in a connected world not a vacuum. We are responsible for each other’s accomplishments and faults. There is a larger collective sense that we are all part of and we should tap into more often.
Here is an example of Gene and Environment Simplified:
Society composed of many smaller communities, which are dynamic with each member belonging to many communities, moving in and out of a variety of communities.
The landscape surrounding my house is very similar to society. Individual sections represent communities and each group of plants represent neighborhoods where each plant reflects race, culture and our unique characteristic. There are obvious differences between plants and humans but early preventive interventions are most cost-effective for both….
- It Pays to Invest in Early Education Says a Nobel Economist Who Boosts Kids’ IQ (pbs.org)
- Genomic data are growing, but what do we really know? (eurekalert.org)
- Childhood trauma leaves mark on DNA of some victims: Gene-environment interaction causes lifelong dysregulation of stress hormones (bipolarblue.wordpress.com)
From the 4 March 2013 article
NEW YORK – The palliative care team at Mount Sinai Hospital gathers on a Thursday morning to exchange the latest information on the patients in their ward. It is a raw, unforgiving day outside, but the weather, the news, most everything beyond these walls are concerns that patients on this ward do not have the luxury to worry about. Theirs is a shrunken world measured in degrees of pain, blood pressure, heart rate, and a set of poor options – none of which any healthy person would welcome.
The simplest definition for palliative care is that it is treatment designed to reduce the pain, discomfort and stress associated with a serious disease. But it also entails eliciting from patients and families in dire circumstances their priorities and wishes to make sure the treatment conforms to those desires.
New York State felt so strongly about the importance of palliative care that last year it enacted pioneering legislation to make certain all those with advanced illnesses had access to this sort of treatment. Now other states are considering following New York’s lead.
Around the oval conference table sit two palliative care doctors, three palliative care nurses, a social worker, an art therapist and a chaplain, who, in this case, is a rabbi. Other nurses enter the room one-by-one to give updates on the patients they are tending to.
The unit is much quieter than most acute-care wards, with far less clattering and beeping medical machinery in order to keep the unit as serene as possible. Occupying one of the 13 beds in the unit today is a 28-year old Brooklyn man with liver failure. Death is imminent, one of the doctors, Stephen Berns, says. Days if not hours. Although the man’s pain can be addressed, his elderly grandparents worry that he will die before their parish priest arrives to perform a baptism. The rabbi, Edie Meyerson, tells the group that she has researched the issue and learned that any Christian can perform a baptism, if it should come to that.
A few doors down lies a 77-year old woman, a one-time deputy superintendent in the state’s corrections system. Her breast cancer has metastasized throughout her body and now all her organs are blinking off. Her closest relatives — two cousins and a niece, the latter her health proxy, have asked that she be removed from the ventilator that appears to be all that is keeping her alive. “We know this is not what she would want,” her cousin says later that day. “She would not want to be on all these machines.”
Then there is a 48-year old man from Puerto Rico with an inoperable tumor in his throat. His face is swollen to such an extent that he can’t open his eyes and his lips have ballooned into protuberances. He has found that even with painkillers, the only tolerable position is to sit cross-legged on his bed, leaning forward with his head cushioned on a pile of pillows. The team wants to start him on steroids to reduce the swelling, but the patient is already hinting that he has had enough.
Advanced Life Limiting Conditions
Not Enough Doctors
- One palliative care doctor for every 1,300 patients with a serious illness in the U.S.
- One oncologist for every 145 patients with a new cancer diagnosis
- One cardiologist for every 71 heart attack victims
- The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Workforce Task Force estimates that there is shortage of as many as 18,000 palliative care doctors in the U.S.
Source: Center to Advance Palliative Care.
The cast of characters on the ward today is not atypical. Statistically, most patients on the ward will die here; a minority will improve enough to enable them to depart, usually to their homes, a nursing home or other health care facility. For all of them, the goal of the staff is to provide care that best accords with their wishes, whether that be an end to life-prolonging efforts, relief from the symptoms that are afflicting them, or some combination of the two.
The New York law passed last year ensures that everyone in the state with “advanced life limiting conditions or illnesses who might benefit from palliative care” not only be informed of these services by their healthcare provider but that the provider facilitate access to that care if they desire it. Violations are subject to fines of up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to a year. (According to the state health department, no one has yet been charged or prosecuted under the law.)
“That was a major step,” says Amber Jones, a consultant on palliative care in New York. “It shone a light on the need patients and families have for information.”
This year, legislatures in several other states are considering their own palliative care legislation at least partly modeled after the New York law. Those states include Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Arkansas and Michigan.
Even as legislation advances, there remains widespread confusion about what palliative care is. “There is a misunderstanding among the public that palliative care means end of life care,” says Jay Horton, director of the Palliative Care Consult Service at the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai. “Many clinicians have the same view.” But the view is not accurate.
Palliative care provides an added layer of support for seriously ill persons and their families. It is delivered alongside all other disease treatments, in an effort to ease the suffering caused by both the disease and its treatment. Palliative care is always part of the treatment for someone in hospice care, that is, someone with a short prognosis who wants to forego further disease intervention.
But palliative care is also appropriate for many others with serious or chronic illnesses, such as leukemia, lymphoma (which is cured in a significant number of patients), heart failure, emphysema, renal failure, and dementia (with which people can live for years.) One common misconception about palliative care is that it is mutually exclusive with treatment for the underlying disease, that it only comes into play when all hope of cure is gone. That is not the case. “Just because you are undergoing palliative care doesn’t mean you are giving up on other treatment,” Horton says.
Practitioners are quick to point out that palliative care, as it is practiced today, entails far more than the relieving of symptoms….
- New York takes the lead on palliative care (sacbee.com)
- Doctors on Call: Prognosis doesn’t matter with palliative care (jacksonville.com)
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Promotes Recommendations Released by Choosing Wisely Campaign (paramuspost.com)
- Nursing: Palliative Care Of AIDS Patients (expertscolumn.com)
- Involving other providers in palliative care may help meet growing demand (eurekalert.org)
- The Growing Demand For Palliative Care Could Be Met By Involving Other Providers (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Palliative Care and the Patient Experience (thielst.typepad.com)
- Palliative care in all wards in Thiruvananthapuram by March (thehindu.com)
From the blog item
The gut mucosa is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body. It hosts the body’s largest population of immune cells. It is often the first point of pathogen exposure and many microbes use it as a beachhead into the rest of the body.
The gut immune system therefore needs to be ready to respond to pathogens but at the same time it is constantly exposed to innocuous environmental antigens, food particles and commensal microflora which need to be tolerated.
Misdirected immune responses to harmless antigens are the underlying cause of food allergies and debilitating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. This animation introduces the key cells and molecular players involved in gut immunohomeostasis and disease.
Nature Immunology in collaboration with Arkitek Studios have produced an animation unraveling the complexities of mucosal immunology in health and disease:
T helper cells (click to enlarge the image).
Comments from Twitter:
FoodAllergySupport @FASupport: More fun than Magic School Bus!
From the Web site
The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. Our Databaseexpands daily, and access to it is free of charge.
The Project began in 2001, and today includes six principal investigators at five universities, as well as a team of up to twenty graduate and undergraduate data extractors. Please learn more by clicking First Time Users and watching our Video Tutorials. Or visit our Blog, where we discuss what we are finding, view our Maps, or read our Researchreports.
First Time Users
Welcome to the WomanStats Database, the world’s most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women.
The best way to acquaint yourself with the database and how to use it is to watch our Video Tutorials for beginners. The first video tutorial explains how to create a free account. The second teaches how to use the codebook and retrieve data from the View screen. The third covers reports, downloads, and maps. The fourth introduces you to other aspects of our web presence, such as our blog and social media.
Trivia is awesome, especially when the questions are "a little out there." Today's trivia quiz is based on ridiculous dental facts. If you answer all of these correctly, you're a dental genius!
1) In what setting was the first commercial toothbrush (similar to what we use today) invented?
2) What is the number one cause of tooth loss in people under the age of 35?
- Tooth Loss Due To Periodontal Disease More Likely In Postmenopausal Women Who Smoked (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Global Study Suggests Dental Health Could Someday Be A Useful Risk Marker For Heart Disease (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Tooth Decay and Periodontal Disease (expertscolumn.com)
- Dental disease linked to halitosis (sfgate.com)
- Periodontal Disease Treatment (dentalimplantsmexico.wordpress.com)
- Study Confirms Link Between Periodontitis and Diabetes (ultimatesmileftl.com)
At last, some progress may be occurring when it comes to calories in restaurant foods. If it catches on and continues (and it might due to some new regulations from the government) we just might see some help occurring with the obesity epidemic.
Also, reducing portion sizes is even more good news. When compared to the 1970's, it's astounding how many portion sizes have increased since then.
- Staying slim with portion control (pix11.com)
- Are you AWARE how PORTIONS have GROWN? (nutritionnewjersey.wordpress.com)
- Are Smaller Restaurant Portions Ethically Better? (businessethicsblog.com)
- Super-Sized Americans Need the Choice of Fewer Fries - Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
The National Academies Press has published a book, Contagion of Violence: A Workshop Summary, based on a 2012 workshop.
The past 25 years have seen a major paradigm shift in the field of violence prevention, from the assumption that violence is inevitable to the recognition that violence is preventable. Part of this shift has occurred in thinking about why violence occurs, and where intervention points might lie.
May May Leung, PhD, RD is an assistant professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Her research expertise includes the development and evaluation of innovative health communication and community-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity.
Many of us are familiar with the golden grain with a funny spelling, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). This grain, which is considered one of the most complete…