Archive for April, 2011


Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The bald truth is not so bad

Richard Gray

April 26, 2011

Medical science is now offering men ways of keeping their hair for longer – and perhaps even avoid going bald at all.

It is a moment men dread: the barber asks if they want a haircut to help disguise their bald spot. For many men the fact they are thinning on top at all will come as a shock.

They may have been aware of a gently growing expanse of forehead as their hairline recedes, but it is rather difficult to see on top of one’s head. And even if they had an honest spouse to forewarn them, few choose to believe it until confronted by their naked crown in a barber’s mirror.

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It was like that for me. It was not until the age of 26, when I was asked by my barber if I used many styling products, that I realised how visible my scalp was from above. The rate at which my hair vanished after that was alarming, and I now consider myself firmly among the follicularly challenged members of society.

I should have guessed it was going to happen – my grandfather was bald by his mid-twenties, and baldness has a strong hereditary element. Yet medical science is now offering men ways of keeping their hair for longer – and perhaps even avoid going bald at all.

The actor James Nesbitt, 46, recently showed off how effective the procedure can be after two transplants. “I would go as far as to say it has changed my life,” said Nesbitt who, after the surgery, has landed several high-profile roles, including a part in a film of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

“Several years ago, I began losing my hair and, like a lot of men, it was a major concern to me. In fact, it was practically an obsession. But also I’m an actor and in the public eye a lot and I really felt that my hair loss could affect my career prospects.”

Others admitting to transplants include former England cricketer Graham Gooch and former England rugby scrum half Kyran Bracken. Mel Gibson and Nicolas Cage have also been the subject of speculation, but have never commented.

The results are a far cry from the early attempts by Elton John to replace his hair with transplants, and the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

“Hair transplants are very good now,” said Barry Stevens, general secretary of The Trichological Society, the professional body of hair scientists. “When it started we were taking tufts of hair and it produced an effect a bit like a brush or a doll’s head. We can now do transplants where single or double hairs are individually transplanted. There isn’t anything out there that is as good.”

The most common form of baldness is androgenic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness, which is thought to have a strong genetic component. This type of hair loss typically begins above the temples and causes hair to thin on the crown. The human head has on average 1,000 hairs per square inch. People lose around 100 hairs per day due to normal hair cycling, but with alopecia this can be far higher.

Research has shown that a hormone, dihydrotestosterone, is involved in androgenic alopecia, but the exact mechanism is unclear. It is thought that a genetic sensitivity to this hormone causes follicles to shrink, reducing their ability to produce hair normally. Still, the picture is complex as the hormone is also responsible for hair growth in other parts of the body.

A quarter of men begin balding in their twenties and two thirds have started going bald by 60. So with the majority of men suffering baldness before retirement age, why is it such a big issue?

“Hair symbolises youth and health,” explains Lucy Beresford, a psychotherapist who specialises in cosmetic appearance. “If you have a good, healthy head of hair it is a shorthand way of your body saying that you have good genes. So going bald can really impact on people’s sense of self, as it makes them realise they are not the young person they think they are. It reminds them of their own mortality.”

Some men choose to embrace baldness, shaving thinning hair so they appear balder. It can bring good results – the actor Patrick Stewart, who has been bald since he was 19, is frequently named the sexiest man on television. Yet some men will go to any length to disguise their naked scalps with wigs, or comb-overs.

But now with new technology and surgical techniques, balding men have the option of hair transplants. This involves cutting out tiny patches of skin that contain the hair follicles from which the hair shaft grows. These grafts are taken from the back of the head where there is still hair under general anaesthetic, with up to 50 grafts, each containing between one and four hairs, being placed in a square centimetre of bald scalp. In one operation surgeons might make more than 4,000 grafts, which is why a procedure can cost up to pounds 14,000.

Immediately after an operation, patients are urged not to touch the transplant in case they damage the grafts – even pulling a T-shirt over the head is discouraged – and must sleep in an upright position for three nights. Patients often also take hair growth drugs, but if the surgery is successful, the transplanted hair should last for the rest of the patient’s life – although they will continue to lose their other hair as they age.

Transplants, however, do not work for everyone. If there is insufficient hair left at the back of the head, then it is impossible to transplant enough to restore the bald areas. In New York, scientists have been attempting to use beard hair as a source, while other approaches have attempted to use regenerative therapy techniques to “clone” the patient’s hair cells.

One such approach was taken to a phase two clinical trial by Dr Bessam Farjo, from the Farjo Medical Centre in London. By extracting dermal papilla cells from patients’ heads, Dr Farjo was then able to multiply the cells before injecting them back into scalps. This was thought to stimulate the formation of new follicles and rejuvenate those that had stopped producing hair. Two thirds of patients saw hair growth after the treatment. A similar technique is being developed in Italy, with attempts to grow cultures of follicle cells that can then be injected into the scalp.

There are only two drugs licensed to treat genetic hair loss – minoxidil and finasteride. Finastaeride blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Minoxidil was developed to treat high blood pressure but was found to cause increased hair growth. It is not fully understood how it works, but is thought to increase the flow of potassium molecules in follicles.

Until recently these drugs were only available on prescription, but there have also been a recent spate of over-the-counter products. One foam-based one, Regaine, which contains minoxidil, is sold in supermarkets.

Meanwhile, L’Oreal’s luxury Redken brand has launched a spray-on treatment, Intra Force, containing aminexil, which is thought to prevent the build-up of collagen around follicles. “During the hair cycle the follicle has to be rebuilt from stem cells,” explains Dr Bruno Bernard, director of research for life sciences at L’Oreal. “Stem cells in human hair follicles are localised in two different reservoirs – one is in the upper part of the follicle and the other in the lower part.

“The cells in the lower part are required to activate the cells in the upper part and so help to maintain the follicle function. The thickening of collagen in the connective tissue sheath, which sits around the base of the hair follicle, prevents the movement of stem cells from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. Bit by bit, the follicle is squeezed and causes the follicles to grow smaller and smaller.” Indeed, research from The Rockefeller University in New York suggests movement between the two groups of stem cells is crucial in normal hair growth.

Another recent study, at the University of Pennsylvania, has shown that bald areas of scalp contain the same number of stem cells as hairy areas. It disproved theories that hair loss in androgenic alopecia was due to a loss of follicle stem cells suggesting that they have just become inactive.

This has raised hopes that it may be possible to regenerate follicles by reactivating these stem cells. “There may be a lack of an activator or the presence of an inhibitor,” says Dr George Cotsarelis, chairman of the department of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. “We are looking to tackle this mostly by activating genetic pathways we think are important either through transgenic approaches or pharmacologically. It’s reasonable to believe that a therapy based on manipulating stem cells will eventually be available.”

Inspired by these advances, I decided to reverse my own follicle decline by trying Redken’s 30-day treatment. One week in, I have yet to see less skin shining through my closely cropped hair. However, I do like the way it makes my scalp tingle.

The Sunday Telegraph

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 25th, 2011

Women who had overcame cancer

FOUR women who overcame ovarian cancer discuss their conditions & experiences.

One in 77 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime. A pap smear does not detect ovarian cancer. There is no early detection test for the disease. Only knowing and identifying the symptoms can aid in early detection that can save lives. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full, lethargic and a change in bowel or urine habits. Diagnosis can only be confirmed at point of surgery and treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy. Speak to your GP or visit for more details. These brave women share their ovarian cancer journeys.


Elise Pratt, 24, Gladstone, Qld


Lethargic for weeks, I also felt like I had constant period pain. An ultrasound revealed a cyst the size of a grapefruit on one of my ovaries. Doctors said it would go away by itself. Six weeks later in April 2009 the cramps became debilitating.

Doctors at the Mater Hospital in Rockhampton did a CT scan and this time they found a tumour the size of a football on my ovary, unrelated to the cyst. My gynaecologist sent my results to a specialist in Brisbane who called me in for surgery. The surgeon warned me that when they opened me up they may have to do a hysterectomy. It was a shock, though aged 22, and at uni, I wasn’t thinking about children yet.

During that operation they removed the tumour, one ovary, a fallopian tube, omentum, which is the fatty part around the bowel, and some lymph nodes. A biopsy revealed I had stage 3 ovarian germ cell cancer, an aggressive form. Two weeks later I began four cycles of chemotherapy which lasted until August 2009. Despite losing my hair, I ate well and kept fit. In February 2010 at a regular check up, doctors thought I had relapsed and operated to remove my other fallopian tube and half of my remaining ovary.

Both were found to be cancer-free. I can no longer have children naturally and may go into early menopause. I’m having IVF to freeze my embryos. Adoption isn’t an option as I have a pre-existing medical condition. Ovarian cancer isn’t hereditary but I’ve told my sisters and all my friends to listen to their bodies. Ovarian cancer is more common than you think and the symptoms are hard to recognise.


Meghan Speers, 34, Bentleigh, Vic


With a swollen belly and stomach aches, I only really became concerned when I missed my menstrual cycle. I was single, 29, and living in London in 2006. A doctor tested me and said I was six weeks and four days pregnant. I told them that wasn’t possible and insisted on more tests. A gynaecologist then did an internal ultrasound.

After two more ultrasounds they diagnosed a fallopian tube blockage and said they needed to operate right away. When I came round they had removed my right ovary as it was 98 per cent tumour. “Will I be able to have kids?” was the first question I asked and doctors assured me I still could. A week later, the biopsy revealed I had dysgermanoma, a rare germ cell tumour, and would need further surgery as it had spread. I flew back to my home in Hobart and had two further surgeries to remove my fallopian tube, cancer cells off my bowel and a suspect lymph node. After that I had nine weeks of intensive chemo.

I suffered nausea and headaches and I lost my hair. It was frightening. I thought only older people got cancer. By February 2007 I was able to go back to work in Melbourne. In April 2007 a tumour was removed from my left ovary and part of that ovary was frozen. Not long after that I met my now husband and we’re both grateful that having children is an option for us. I’ve learnt when you know in your heart something is wrong, you owe it to yourself to get to the bottom of it.


Sandra Anderson, 47, Bridgeman Downs, Qld


A close friend of mine had ovarian cancer and I looked after her kids while she had chemotherapy. Still, I didn’t connect the dots when five years later in 2005 I started suffering from tiredness, bloating and what felt like dragging on my right side of my abdomen. A busy mum to three boys, I ignored the symptoms until two colleagues blocked my door at work and bullied me into going to see a doctor.

My GP did an ultrasound and said I had a tumour so sent me off to a gynaecologist. There I had a CT scan and was told I had a benign teratoma, or ovarian cyst, the size of a five-month-old foetus. I had surgery to remove it and two days later was told it was ovarian cancer and they would need to perform a radical hysterectomy. I was shocked.

They removed my appendix, parts of my bowel, both ovaries and both fallopian tubes. Pathology revealed I was only 1C, the mildest form of cancer, but I’m glad they removed it all anyway. I’m blessed to already have my children. I was terribly ill throughout my six months of chemo but am pleased to announce I am now in remission. I owe my colleagues my life. Women today are so busy we ignore the signs – don’t! It could cost you your life.


Suzanne Angelis, 42, Darwin, NT


Training for an ocean swim for my 40th birthday, I became tired and lost weight but I put that down to all the exercise. After the swim in 2008, I was violently ill, and the weight loss and fatigue continued for months. I also had hot and cold flushes, sweating, diarrhoea and swollen breasts. My doctor did a pap smear and declared me healthy. It wasn’t until tragedy struck my family and I lay on the couch grieving that I realised my belly was so swollen I looked pregnant.

A new GP sent me for an ultrasound followed by a CA125 blood test, which is a tumour marker, and a CT scan. The results all showed that I had a large tumour and would need surgery but they couldn’t do it in Darwin. I left behind my teenaged children and flew to Brisbane to have a radical hysterectomy. I was later told it was stage 3 ovarian cancer which had spread to the lymph system. For the next seven months I flew between Brisbane and Darwin for aggressive IP chemotherapy.

It was gruelling and I became depressed as I was lonely in Brisbane without my family. Luckily, I found a charity coffee shop where I volunteered and they helped me through my darkest days. There are some things you can’t talk to your loved ones about as you don’t want to scare them. When I was told the cancer was gone I felt like I could breathe normally again. I still have regular checks. Don’t ignore the little symptoms and never put your own health to one side. Busy mums need to look after themselves too. After all, you can’t be a good mum if you’re not around.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 25th, 2011


CANCER patients are offering themselves as human guinea pigs as researchers investigate a possible cure for cancer that was found in north Queensland rainforests.

Scientists have identified a compound in the fruit of the native blushwood shrub that appears to “liquefy and destroy cancer with no side-effects”, according to latest research.

Found deep in the remnants of a 130 million-year-old rainforest, the fruit extract may yet hold the secret antidote to Australia’s No.1 killer disease.

Victoria Gordon, of EcoBiotics, an Atherton Tableland-based company, said they hoped to go to human clinical trials later this year.

Dr Gordon said a single dose injection of the extract, known as EBC-46, had been effective in 50 critically ill dogs and about a dozen cats and horses.

“This is proving to be something exceptional,” she said.

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“The tumour literally liquefies.

“There is a rapid knock-down of the tumour, it disintegrates within 24 hours and we have a rapid healing response.

“The biggest tumour we treated was the size of a Coke can in a dog, and that animal is fully healed and healthy.”

Dr Gordon said it had worked on skin cancers, such as carcinomas and melanomas, and bone cancer, and was a possible treatment for breast, colon and prostate cancer.

But she warned wannabe human guinea pigs against seeking under-the-table treatment.

She said it was “immoral, illegal, and unscientific” to seek to be administered the drug before approval, likely to take up to seven years, by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“We have been inundated with calls – it shows there is such a need for a breakthrough in anti-cancer treatment,” she said. “Most people understand when we explain the situation.”

Former breast cancer sufferer Mena Crew, 65, said many dying of cancer would “do anything for a miracle cure”.

“We would all like a magic cure, that would be wonderful, and I hope in my lifetime we find it,” the breast cancer support volunteer said.

She has worked with more than 200 sufferers and some victims in her role with the Cancer Council Queensland.

“I don’t want to kill the enthusiasm of all the wonderful research, but until it is proven it will do the job, we recommend they go with proven and conventional treatments,” she said.

“It is good, however, to think the secret antidote may be growing in the jungle above Cairns.” Queensland Australia.


Sourced & Published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Axolotl eggs could provide

a potent weapon in fight against cancer

By Darren Quick

22:26 January 19, 2011

Researchers have used an axolotl oocyte extract to reactivate tumor suppressor genes and s...

Researchers have used an axolotl oocyte extract to reactivate tumor suppressor genes and stop cancer growing

A common cause of cancer is when cells are altered or mutated and the body’s tumor suppressor genes are switched off. Scientists at the University of Nottingham have managed to bring cancer cells back under control by reactivating the cells’ cancer suppressor genes using an extract from axolotl oocytes. The scientists say the discovery could form a powerful new technology platform for the treatment of a variety of cancers.

The process of cell division is controlled by specific genes and these are turned “on” or “off” depending on their function. Among the most important of these genes are tumor suppressor genes. These genes repress the development of cancers and normally act as a control point in the cell division cycle. Therefore, the switching off of tumor suppressor genes is a common cause of cancers.

The on/off switch in genes is controlled by the modification of proteins that are bound to the DNA in a cell, which are known as epigenetic modifications. Tumour suppressor genes in many cancers are switched off by epigenetic marks, which is the underlying cause of tumors.

In an effort to reverse this process the researchers looked to the axolotl salamander – an animal well known for its ability to regenerate most of its body parts. The scientists found that humans evolved from animals that closely resemble axolotls and therefore, proteins in axolotls are very similar to those in humans. Axolotl oocytes – eggs prior to ovulation – are also packed with molecules that have very powerful epigenetic modifying activity and a powerful capacity to change epigenetic marks on the DNA of human cells.

By treating the cancerous cells with axolotl oocyte extract, the researchers were able to reactivate the tumor suppressor genes and stop the cancer from growing. After 60 days there was still no evidence of cancerous growth.

The researchers say the identification of the proteins in axolotl oocytes responsible for this tumor reversing activity is a major goal of future research, and could form a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer.

The University of Nottingham team’s research appears in the journal

Molecular Cancer.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Microfluidic device promises

rapid detection of cancer and HIV

20:32 April 11, 2011

This tiny microfluidic device uses carbon nanotubes 30 microns in diameter to separate can...

This tiny microfluidic device uses carbon nanotubes 30 microns in diameter to separate cancer cells from normal blood cells (Image: Brian Wardle)

A cross-discipline project that brings together biomedicine and nano-engineering has led to the development of a dime-sized microfluidic device that can rapidly detect cancer cells in a blood sample. The new device is based on a cancer cell-detector created four years ago by Mehmet Toner, professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard Medical School. In its latest incarnation, carbon nanotubes have been introduced into the design resulting in an eight-fold improvement in the collection of cells.

The original version of the device – which is currently undergoing hospital tests with a view to commercialization – uses a forest of tiny silicon posts coated with antibodies to capture tumor cells from a blood sample. The aim is to detect circulating tumor cells which indicate that a cancer has metastasized, but because only a handful of these tumor cells are found among billions of normal blood cells, this is a big challenge. The drawback with this version of the device is that not all of the cells come into contact with the silicon posts.

With the assistance of Brian Wardle, an MIT associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, the silicon tubes have now been replaced with porous carbon nanotubes just 30 microns in diameter which filter the blood far more effectively and therefore significantly improve the chances of collecting circulating tumor cells.

Because the nanotubes can be coated with different antibodies, the device also has great potential in other areas such as HIV diagnosis and could lead to the creation of versatile, low-cost handheld diagnostic devices that would be particularly beneficial in developing countries.

Details of Professor Toner’s microfluidic device were published in the March 17 online edition of the journal 

Sourced & Published by Henry Sapiecha



Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Possible cure for radiation sickness discovered?

By Darren Quick

23:38 July 21, 2009

No need to worry, it's just a nuclear blast

No need to worry, it’s just a nuclear blast

According to a report in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronoth, US and Israeli researchers have developed a drug that offers protection from the damaging effects of radiation sickness. The medication could not only provide effective protection in the event of a nuclear or “dirty bomb” attack, but it could also enable cancer patients to be treated with more powerful doses of radiation.

Experiments carried out by Professor Andrei Gudkov, Chief Scientific Officer at Cleveland BioLabs, and his team exposed more than 650 monkeys split into two groups to a radiation dosage equal to the highest dosage sustained by humans as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Of the group that didn’t receive the cure 70% died, with the survivors suffering from the obvious effects of radiation sickness. However, almost all the monkeys in the group given the medication survived, with most of them exhibiting no side effects.

The tests also showed that injecting the medication between 24 hours before exposure to 72 hours after exposure produced similar results, although Prof. Gudkov emphasized that the drug doesn’t provide 100% protection against radioactive damage. Another test, which involved giving the drug to humans without exposing them to radiation, showed no signs of side effects and indicated the drug is safe for human use.

The medication is the end result of an idea Prof. Gudkov had in 2003 to use protein produced in bacteria found in the intestine to protect cells from radiation. Five years and much hard work later has produced a medication that works by suppressing the “suicide mechanism” of cells hit by radiation, while at the same time enabling them to recover from the radiation-induced damage that triggered the suicide mechanism in the first place. The medication itself is not a vaccine, but a preventative drug that is administered as one or a series of injections.

Thanks to a shortened test track approved for bio-defense drugs Prof. Gudkov’s company expects to complete a set of expanded safety tests by mid-2010, with the medication expected to be approved for use by the FDA within a year or two, provided experiments continue at the current rate.

Israeli news site, YNet News, points to the strategic military advantage such a breakthrough would deliver as well as the medical importance of the medication, which could allow cancer patients to be exposed to greater doses of radiation offering a more powerful weapon in the fight against the disease. The medication could also provide some comfort for those situated close to nuclear power stations.

Source: YNet News, Cleveland BioLabs.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 4th, 2011

Head-worn device uses sonar to rapidly diagnose stroke
A team of radiologists and retired US Navy sonar experts have used technology developed for submarines as the basis for a new device which offers quick detection, diagnosis and monitoring of stroke. Combined with a portable laptop based console, the head-worn device enables different types of stroke and brain injury to be discovered and located, differentiating normal blood flow from life threatening conditions and delivering an initial diagnosis in under a couple of minutes. Read More

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 4th, 2011

Nasal Screens help you keep your nose clean
Nobody likes having pollen or dust allergies, nor do they enjoy suffering through airborne viruses such as colds or the flu. One approach to lessening the likelihood of being bothered by either of these conditions is to wear a mouth and nose mask, but that could get rather awkward and uncomfortable, plus it would make you look kind of funny in some situations. If you’re OK with still looking a little funny, however, you might be interested in slapping on a pair of First Defense Nasal Screens – that’s right, we’re talking nostril filters.

Read More

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 4th, 2011

Hospitals use robots to push prostate surgeries

No, this is not a body dismembering device

Want to see a high-pressure sales pitch? Don’t visit a car dealer… just visit a hospital with a prostate-chopping robot.

It slices… it dices… it brings in money like nobody’s business — and who cares if it performs operations no one actually needs?

A new study shows how hospitals that spend big on robots do more surgeries than ever before — so many that they must be putting those machines to work overtime.

Good thing robots don’t have unions!

Researchers tracked robot purchases at 554 hospitals and treatments given to 30,000 men between 2001 and 2005, and found that hospitals that buy the machines do 29 more surgeries in the first year alone — a huge jump when you consider that many only did between 100 and 150 a year in the first place.

Meanwhile, hospitals that don’t buy robots actually do five fewer surgeries in that same year.

It’s not because they’re losing business to robots — surgeries were actually DOWN overall during the study period, according to the research in Medical Care.

It’s because hospitals are pushing robo-surgery on any man with prostate cancer — and you don’t even have to walk through the door to hear the sales pitch.

In addition to the millions spent on the machines, hospitals with robots spend big on marketing campaigns that rival those of the car dealers I mentioned earlier: blaring radio ads and obnoxious TV adverts.

Some hospitals even bring their robots to shopping malls for passers-by to “oooh” and “aaaah” over.

But here’s what you won’t hear during that marketing blitz: There is zero evidence — and I mean absolutely no evidence at all — that men who are treated with robots have better outcomes.

And there’s plenty of evidence that prostate surgeries — done by humans and robots alike — can lead to a nightmare battle with lasting and even permanent side effects, including incontinence and impotence.

It’s the same story with most other cancer treatments, prostate and otherwise — we treat more cancer “survivors” than ever before… but haven’t changed the survival rate.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Coleus Roots as a medicine

Coleus Roots

  • Coleus is found to be effective in skin conditions as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Coleus is mainly indicated in cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, congestive heart failure and angina.
  • Studies have indicated the use of coleus for asthma, intestinal colic, uterine cramps, as well as painful urination.
  • Coleus can aid in weight loss due to its ability to breakdown stored fat as well as inhibit the synthesis of adipose tissue, additionally, it increases thyroid hormone production and release thereby increasing metabolism.
  • Ophthalmic preparation of forskolin to the eyes lowers eye pressure thus reducing the risk of Glaucoma.
  • Coleus can aid in digestive and malabsorption disorders through its ability to stimulate secretion of saliva, hydrochloric acid, pepsin, amalyase and pancreatic enzymes and increase nutrient absorption in the small intestine.
  • Sports nutrition, Weight management, Lean body mass development
  • Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha
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