Archive for May, 2013


Thursday, May 30th, 2013


Caitie Keyes-Liley, 20, was used to hangovers – the headache, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness. But then a new symptom emerged. Panic.

The day after big drinking sessions she found herself replaying events of the night before, obsessing over gaps in her memory. She was paranoid she had done something badly wrong.

”I’ve [twice] had a panic attack when hung-over,” says Keyes-Liley, who now works as a librarian. ”One was immediately when I woke up, whereas the other was in the middle of the day when I’d had more time to think about [the night before].”


Keyes-Liley says she didn’t realise at first that her feelings of guilt and embarrassment were extreme. ”I sort of accepted that that’s what a hangover was, that you’d feel quite horrible about yourself.”

Emerging international research suggests she is only one of many drinkers who face persistent, unwanted thoughts after a night of boozing.

A study of 1400 Dutch students aged 18 to 30, published in March in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, found 8 per cent suffered anxiety during hangovers. More than a third of participants reported disorientation and half said they felt agitated.

A co-author of the study, psychologist Dr Adele McKinney, says it is clear that alcohol continues affecting the brain even after it has left the body.

I’s not the first study to report the correlation. In 2006, McKinney, a lecturer at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, found ”high levels of anxiety” in 48 healthy but hungover students.


The heavier drinkers, who weren’t more stressed than average at the beginning of the study, suffered worse emotional distress the day after drinking.

McKinney is concerned by a lack of public knowledge about the link between binge drinking and anxiety. ”An escalation of awareness needs to occur,” she says.

The Australian Medical Association reports the majority of Australians drink alcohol at levels that involve a risk of harm. The problem is worst among the young – 80 per cent of the alcohol intake of 18- to-24-year-olds is consumed at risky levels.

Mental health awareness groups, such as Beyondblue and Headspace, say that those with mental illnesses are more likely to drink to overcome negative emotions. They also warn that long-term alcohol abuse can cause anxiety and depression.


But the findings of McKinney and others suggest short-term alcohol abuse can also have mental health consequences, even for those with no history of mental illness.

End-of-year celebrations that offer regular and sustained drinking opportunities, including schoolies and Christmas parties, may be hazardous in ways not previously acknowledged.

A psychiatrist and associate professor at Flinders University in Adelaide, Dr Michael Baigent, who is also a national clinical adviser to Beyondblue, says alcohol can have a ”rebound effect”, leaving people feeling on edge.

”As the alcohol wears off, you lose the sedating effect,” Baigent says. He describes how the body metabolises alcohol into acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that produces ”very nasty symptoms” such as a fast pulse and anxiety.

Law student Will (who did not wish to be identified by his real name) says being hung-over can mean hours of feeling upset and stressed. ”It’s more than being hung-over or a little bit down,” he says. ”It’s like you’re against yourself.”

Like Keyes-Liley, Will often fixates on events of the night before. ”I do become really worried and anxious,” he says. ”It’s happened a couple of times with me where I need to call and talk to people and apologise.


”But then it’s not an issue with them. It’s more my anxiety, my paranoia, that I’ve done something or offended someone.”

A US blogger who has a master’s degree in psychology, Paul Dooley, tells how drinking precipitated his first panic attack.

”After a night of drinking with friends, my life changed forever,” he writes on his mental health blog, ”I remember reading a magazine and having nothing really on my mind, when I suddenly became overwhelmed with feelings of fear and confusion. After that night I stayed anxious for nearly six months straight.”

In online health forums, many people describe hangovers that involve overwhelming anxiety symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, racing heart rates and fears of insanity or death.

So what should drinkers do if they experience a panic attack? A Brisbane psychologist, Santo Russo, says sufferers should understand that anxiety during a hangover is a product of the alcohol. ”This is not you,” Russo says. ”Affirm for yourself that this will pass. Calm yourself – focusing on breathing is one important option to look at.”


While most people when hung-over will want to lie in bed, curled up in the foetal position, Russo says a distraction can also be really helpful

”You are better off trying to keep commitments, including work, the next day.’

Baigent says that while people should always seek help for mental problems, including recurrent anxiety after drinking, ”no psychiatric treatment will be better than reducing the alcohol you’re drinking”.

”No amount of cognitive behavioural therapy or anti-depressants will make a difference if you’re not cutting down,” he says. Baigent worries that many people who enjoy alcohol to reduce inhibitions will dismiss the next day’s woes, ”more enamoured by the help it gave them the night before”.

Russo is also concerned by the peer pressure associated with drinking. He says people who want to feel part of the group when drinking can succumb to pressure ”knowing that negative feelings the next day can be hidden”


Instead, Russo says, people at risk of an anxious hangover need to have a plan and stick to it. ”Let your friends know, ‘I’m only having two drinks.’ When they say, ‘Oh come on,’ you have to feel strong enough to say, ‘No, it’s not worth it.’

”Very few groups will ostracise someone for not keeping up. And if they do, you have to ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to be a part of this group?”’

Russo warns that drinking again the next morning is a ”huge trap”.

”Anyone who engages in that is setting themselves up for a problem. That’s how alcoholism starts. If the whole pattern is persisting, it’s important to actually seek help.’

Will admits he still drinks a lot. ”But I do cut it down after I’ve had an episode. It’s pretty exhausting. On top of having a hangover you’re mentally exhausted.’

But Keyes-Liley says after a bender earlier in the year she has drastically reduced her drinking. She can now resist the pressure to drink, even though ”it’s such a social norm”.

”I haven’t had a bad hangover in a really long time because I deliberately haven’t had a big night. Now I can go out and not have a lot to drink.”


Weathering the storm

Try to remain calm
Reassure yourself that the anxiety is a product of the alcohol consumed and will pass.

Distract yourself
Go to work and keep other commitments.

Reduce drinking
Drinking to reduce social anxiety can set you up for an anxious hangover; drinking to handle an anxiety hangover can set you up foralcoholism.

Seek help
Ask peers for their support in not encouraging you to drink to risky levels; seek professional help for persistent heavy drinking and  anxiety.

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Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, May 30th, 2013



Russian scientists claim they have discovered blood in the carcass of a woolly mammoth, adding that the rare find could boost their chances of cloning the prehistoric animal.

An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean.

Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the expedition, said the animal died at the age of around 60 some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, and that it was the first time that an old female had been found.

But what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue.
“When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark,” Grigoryev, who is a scientist at the Yakutsk-based Northeastern Federal University, told AFP.

“This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the colour of fresh meat,” he added.

Grigoryev said that the lower part of the carcass was very well preserved as it ended up in a pool of water that later froze over. The upper part of the body including the back and the head are believed to have been eaten by predators, he added.

“The forelegs and the stomach are well preserved, while the hind part has become a skeleton.”

The discovery, Grigoryev said, gives new hope to researchers in their quest to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.

“This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth,” he said.

“Previous mammoths have not had such well-preserved tissue.”

Last year, Grigoryev’s Northeastern Federal University signed a deal with cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, who in 2005 created the world’s first cloned dog.

In the coming months, mammoth specialists from South Korea, Russia and the United States are expected to study the remains which the Russian scientists are now keeping at an undisclosed northern location

“I won’t say where it is being kept or it may get stolen,” he said.

Last year, a teenager from a nomadic family in Russia’s north stumbled upon a massive well-preserved woolly mammoth, in what scientists described as the best such discovery since 1901.

The young male mammoth was dubbed Zhenya after the nickname of the boy who discovered it.

Global warming has thawed ground in northern Russia that is usually almost permanently frozen, leading to the discoveries of a number of mammoth remains

Are humans next to be cloned?



Monday, May 27th, 2013


With the death in Barbados on Thursday of James Emmanuel ”Doc” Sisnett, at the age of 113 years and 90 days, Jiroemon Kimura, of Japan, has become the last man alive to have been born in the 19th century.

Literally the last man. There are, according to the Gerontolgy Research Group at UCLA, 21 women born before New Year’s Day, 1901, who are still with us, most of them living in the United States or Japan, with others in Europe and Canada.

But while the females born in the reign of Queen Victoria strongly outnumber him, Mr Kimura, born on April 19, 1897, has one record the girls can’t match – not just yet, anyway. At 116, the ”supercentenarian” is the oldest human on the planet.


Supercentenarians are people who have lived past their 110th birthday, and while it’s estimated that there may be 200 or 300 living today, only 60-odd have been verified by reliable birth records. Of them only two, Mr Kimura and Japanese woman Misao Okawa, are known to be still living aged 115 or older.

Being born in the year 30 of the Meiji period, Mr Kimura has lived in the reigns of four emperors, and through the premierships of 61 Japanese prime ministers, from Matsukata Masayoshi to Shinzo Abe.

Mr Kimura retired in 1962 aged 65, after working for 45 years in the Japanese post office. He now lives in Kyō¯tango, Kyoto Prefecture, with his eldest son’s widow, 83, and his grandson’s widow, 59, and attributes his long life to eating small portions of food, and admits to spending most of his time ”in bed”


Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, May 23rd, 2013


Instead of traipsing through Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León might have been better off turning his search inwards. More specifically, he should have turned his attention to a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. At least that’s what research carried out on mice by scientists at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University suggests. They found that the hypothalamus controls many aspects of aging, opening up the potential to slow down the aging process by altering signal pathways within that part of the brain.

Located just above the brain stem and found in all vertebrate brains, the hypothalamus is roughly the size of an almond in humans and is responsible for numerous functions, including growth, development, reproduction and certain metabolic processes.


Previous work by Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular pharmacology at Einstein, and his colleagues had shown that inflammatory changes in the hypothalamus can lead to various components associated with metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical disorders that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This led Dr. Cai to suspect that the hypothalamus may also play a key role in aging, prompting him to study hypothalamic inflammation by focusing on a protein complex called NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells). This is a protein complex that plays an important role in regulating cellular responses, the production of small molecules used for cell signaling known as cytokines, and cell survival.

Dr. Cai and his team found that activating the NF-κB pathway in the hypothalamus of mice caused them to age faster by causing a decline in levels of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This hormone is synthesized in the hypothalamus and its release into the blood is usually associated with reproduction.


“The mice showed a decrease in muscle strength and size, in skin thickness, and in their ability to learn – all indicators of aging. Activating this pathway promoted systemic aging that shortened the lifespan,” he said.

Conversely, blocking the NF-κB pathway in the mice slowed the aging process and increased their median longevity by about 20 percent compared to the control group.

The researchers also found that injecting GnRH into a part of the hypothalamus known as a hypothalamic ventricle protected aged mice from age-associated impaired neurogenesis. In other words, the aged mice were better able to create new neurons. Mice that received daily GnRH injections for a prolonged period saw a slowing of age-related cognitive decline, which the researchers theorize is the result of neurogenesis.

Dr. Cai believes the findings offer two potential strategies for treating age-related diseases and increasing lifespan – preventing the hypothalamus from causing inflammation and using GnRH therapy to increase neurogenesis.

The technology has been made available for licensing and is detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University


Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, May 23rd, 2013


When a nerve in the peripheral nervous system is torn or severed, it can take a long time to regenerate – if it does so at all. Depending on the location of the injury, it can leave the affected part of the patient’s body numb and/or paralyzed for years, or even for the rest of their life. Now, however, scientists from Israel’s Tel Aviv University have created a gel and an implant that they claim could vastly aid in the healing of damaged nerves.

The implant is a tiny pliable biodegradable tube, that is placed around the two cut ends of the nerve. It serves to line them up with one another and hold them together end-to-end, plus its inner surface is coated with the gel.

Known as Guiding Regeneration Gel (GRG), the substance supports the growth of new nerve fibers via three key components – anti-oxidants, synthetic laminin peptides (amino acid compounds), and hyaluronic acid. The anti-oxidants help prevent inflammation, the peptides provide a sort of guiding line for the nerve fibers to grow along in the gap between the two cut ends, and the hyaluronic acid – which is typically found in the human fetus – keeps everything from drying out. As a result, nerves reportedly heal “quickly and smoothly.”

The implant/gel system has already been successfully tested on lab animals, with clinical use on humans said to be only a few years away. GRG could also be used on its own in the field of cell therapy, as a means of preserving cells for transplantation.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University


Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Alzheimer’s disease can now be cured in mice-Are humans next?

Although no one is announcing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease just yet, research recently conducted at the University of Southern California does at least offer a glimmer of hope. Using drugs known as TSPO (translocator protein) ligands, scientists there have successfully halted and even reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s in mice.


The mice, all of which were male, had been genetically engineered to develop the disease. The drugs were tested on both 7-month-old young adult mice and 24-month-old elderly mice. Because the TSPO ligands increase production of steroid hormones, it was important that the animals’ existing testosterone levels be kept low before beginning the treatment. While this had already occurred naturally with the older mice as a result of aging, the younger ones had to be castrated in order to bring their levels down.

After receiving once-a-week treatments for four weeks, all of the mice showed improvements. This was particularly noteworthy with the older mice, as their Alzheimer’s had become quite severe. After the four treatments, however, they showed “significant lowering of Alzheimer’s-related pathology and improvements in memory behavior.”

It’s already known that TSPO ligands help protect nerve cells by reducing inflammation, and that they increase the production of neuroactive hormones in the brain. The scientists now plan on determining which factor plays more of a part in the success with the mice, then developing new TSPO ligands designed around those findings.

“From the optimistic perspective, our data provide very promising findings with tangible potential benefits for both the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s,” said lead scientist Prof. Christian Pike. “On the pessimistic side, research scientists have developed many interventions that cured Alzheimer’s in mice but have failed to show significant benefits in humans. A critical direction we are currently pursuing is successfully translating these findings into humans.”

A paper on the research was recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience

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Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, May 19th, 2013


Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root-like cruciferous vegetable from the Andes of Peru. It grows in some of the harshest farmlands in the world, where the soil is rich in volcanic minerals, experiencing freezing temperatures, fierce winds and intense sunlight . Maca is the only plant known in the world that can grow and thrive at such a high altitude and in such harsh weather. For more than two millennia, native Peruvians have used maca root as food and medicine to promote fertility, endurance, energy, vitality, and sexual virility.

Stories of maca’s fertility supporting effects have been passed down through history in a story that took place in the 1500’s. Soon after the Spanish Conquest in South America occurred the Spanish began to experience poor health and infertility in themselves as well as in their livestock. This was due to the high altitude of the Andes. The native Peruvians recommended that they feed their livestock and themselves maca. The results were so dramatic that many of the first written records ever kept for the Andean region were passages about maca. There are also historical notes recording that the Conquistadors began demanding to be paid in maca instead of gold.


How Maca Works

Containing 31 different minerals and 60 different phytonutrients, maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding both the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands (all involved in hormonal balance.) Maca has the ability to affect key hormones in both women and men without containing hormones itself.

Maca has been scientifically researched for the use of increasing fertility since 1961 and has been shown to contain specific compounds called glucosinolates which directly can affect fertility for both men and women. These alkaloids are responsible for maca’s ability to support hormonal balance.


Benefits of maca:

  • Supports hormonal balance
  • Increases energy, stamina, and mental clarity
  • Supports the thyroid
  • Supports normal sexual function

Maca also has adaptogenic properties which means it helps to strengthen the body so it is able to better resist disease and stress, support the adrenal glands and balances the body’s functions. In order for an herb to be considered an adaptogen it must be non-toxic or harmless to any organ of the body and must be able to be ingested for long periods of time safely. Maca is classified as an adaptogen.


Endocrine system tonic
One of maca’s main actions is to stimulate and nourish the hypothalamus which regulates the pituitary gland, acting as a tonic for the hormone system. When the pituitary gland functions optimally, the entire endocrine system becomes balanced, because the pituitary gland controls the hormone output of the other three glands.

Promotes Hormonal Balance
In women, maca works by controlling estrogen in the body. Estrogen levels that are high or low at the wrong time can keep a woman from becoming pregnant or keep her from carrying to term. Excess estrogen levels also cause progesterone levels to become too low. Taking maca may help to increase the progesterone levels which are essential to carrying a healthy pregnancy.

Estrogen in men produces erectile dysfunction or lack of libido, low sperm count, and lowered production of seminal fluid. Studies have shown that men who use maca may experience an increased libido and an increase in sperm health.

In one study with rats and maca, it was found that animals given maca powder showed multiple egg follicle maturation in females (important for ovulation) and the males had significantly higher sperm production and motility rates.

Supports normal sexual function
In a human study of 9 men who were given gelatinized maca for 4 months at 1,500 – 3,000 mg a day experienced an increase in libido, sperm count, mobillity of sperm, increased DHEA levels, decreased anxiety and stress, lowered blood pressure, balanced iron levels and an increase in adrenal androgens.


How to Use Maca

When purchasing maca you want to make sure the product you are using has only maca root in it, not leaves or stem. Maca is available in powder, capsules or tincture. It is also available in varying strengths.

Maca powder: Maca powder comes in two forms. Plain maca powder that is just powdered maca root or gelatinized maca. Gelatinization is a completely vegetarian process that removes the starch from maca to improve assimilation and increases the concentration.

We find that gelatinized maca is easier to digest than the plain powder and is also more cost effective since it is more concentrated. The studies mentioned above used gelatinized maca. Gelatinization does not refer to “gelatin”, and no animal derived ingredients are incorporated into this process.

Maca powder can be added to juice, smoothies, yogurt or baked goods. It has a nice malty flavor which goes well with foods. I like to add it to all of my smoothies.


Maca capsules: Maca capsules are a convenient way to get maca daily. Many people will find using the maca capsules to be easier since they can be taken at any time with some water.

Maca tincture: A tincture of maca root is a liquid extract of the medicinal properties of maca. Maca tincture is can be taken with water, in juice or added to smoothies.

General suggested usage is 2000-3000 mg a day. To obtain desired results, maca needs to be taken regularly. It can be taken in one dose or through out the day.


Safety & Side Effects

Maca is a beneficial herb that has been used for thousands of years and consumed everyday as a food and medicine by the Peruvians. Based on its long history of use as a food it appears to be very safe. Toxicity studies (conducted at Product Safety Labs of East Brunswick, N.J.) showed absolutely no toxicity and no adverse pharmacological effects.

In a small amount of women, some using plain maca root (not gelatinized) experienced stomach upset. Some women experience spotting or a change in their menstrual cycle when they first begin using maca. This is normal and a sign that the body is beginning to balance the hormonal system.

Maca Use During Pregnancy

As a safety precaution most manufacturers state that their supplements should not be used during pregnancy. There have been no studies on the use of maca during pregnancy. Acute toxicity studies and cytotoxicity evaluations have demonstrated absence of any evidence of potential toxicity of maca. The Peruvians have been consuming maca as a food for thousands of years. Since there have been no studies on the use of maca during pregnancy we can not state that it is proven safe to use during pregnancy. Please do your own research and make a personal decision on the use of maca during your pregnancy.



As you can see from all the actions maca can have on the body, it is a wonderful fertility superfood and tonic. Maca can complement any fertility program and should be used on a daily basis for best results. It can also be used in conjunction with other fertility herbs and supplements.

Henry Sapiecha


Friday, May 17th, 2013


For all their powers, superheroes aren’t necessarily the healthiest crew. Spider-Man is weakened by a nasty flu the night Green Goblin throws his girlfriend from a bridge. Superman is almost vanquished by a “meteor-borne Kryptonian fungus.” After Captain Marvel seals a tank of nerve gas with his bare hands, he eventually dies of cancer.

An exception, however, is Batman’s nemesis Poison Ivy. In one version, after her botanical biochemistry professor experiments on her with poisons, she develops “immunity to all toxins, bacteria and viruses.” No rational person would want Poison Ivy’s life (her boyfriend dies in a car crash, she is locked in an insane asylum), but who wouldn’t covet that superpower? Who wouldn’t wish to grant it to others?

Imagine you could protect babies from whooping cough from the day they were born. You could shield the elderly from deadly infections like pneumonia. You could protect millions of people from the next outbreak of pandemic flu. You could even fight cancer. Such hopes animate vaccine researchers as they look for new ways to train the immune system, ramping it up for battle (while sparing us the near-death traumas of Poison Ivy). Recent work has explored immunity boosts for the very young and very old, shots to shield against unknown flu strains, and vaccines that might treat disease or prevent recurrences in patients with prostate cancer, melanoma, and breast cancer.


Kids today, it turns out, already have superimmunity compared with their peers 100 years ago: Thanks to vaccines, their bodies learn to fight measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, and other deadly diseases. With a few exceptions, though, this kick-ass training can’t begin at birth. That’s because newborns’ immune cells don’t respond vigorously enough to most vaccines to lock in later protection. Babies don’t receive their first whooping cough shot until they’re 2 months old, and they aren’t fully protected until after a third dose, at 6 months. For measles, they aren’t vaccinated until their first birthdays. These delays can have devastating consequences. In the 2010 outbreak of whooping cough in California, 10 babies died—almost all of them younger than 2 months.

But what if researchers could design immunizations for newborns? Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital have identified several molecules that seem specifically able to stimulate immune cells isolated from umbilical cord blood, at least in Petri dishes. Now they’re testing whether newborn animals that receive vaccines combined with these molecules develop better protection against bacterial diseases like pneumonia than animals given nonboosted vaccines. (Of course, they’re also studying whether supercharging newborn immune systems is safe.) “We’re asking whether vaccines that are typically given at 2, 4, and 6 months could be done with a single shot at birth,” if given along with booster molecules, said Ofer Levy, a pediatric infectious diseases expert who is leading the work. Researchers are similarly bullish on immunity boosts for the elderly, who are at higher risk for pneumonia and other infectious diseases and seem not to respond as vigorously to standard vaccines. “I’m quite convinced that we will develop new vaccines for the aging population in the next decade,” Jan Poolman, the global head of bacterial vaccines for Janssen pharmaceutical companies, told me.


Another battlefront is against pandemic flu, which scientists fear could wreak havoc around the globe. Flu mutates like crazy, and from year to year different strains circulate in the population. Most years’ strains are different enough from the previous season’s that we need new flu shots, but they’re not so different that our immune systems have never seen anything like them. Periodically, though, come nasty surprises: Spanish flu in 1918, which killed about 40 million or 50 million people; the H5N1 avian flu, which is often deadly in those who catch it from birds, though for now it can’t spread easily from person to person. Researchers keep an anxious eye out, hoping for a jump-start on the scary strains.

But what if they could make shots to guard against the unpredictable? The idea is this: Flu virus has mushroom-shaped proteins on its surface called hemagglutinins that it uses to invade human cells. Today’s vaccines prep the immune system to attack the bulbous head of the protein. But this is precisely the part that changes most from strain to strain. So as an alternative, researchers are trying to train the body to attack the protein’s stem, which it usually ignores. Since the stem changes far less from strain to strain, antibodies mounted against it could potentially protect against a wide range of flu types, including pandemic strains. Shazam!


A few ingenious tricks are now in play. Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York have injected mice with three successive shots, each containing a different hemagglutinin head on the same stem. They have found that this causes the mice to make anti-stem antibodies (focusing on the common denominator of the three shots), and that when the mice were exposed to additional types of flu virus, they did not get sick. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, meanwhile, are testing a DNA-based vaccine, followed by a boost, that may have similar effects. In two small, phase-one clinical trials, some people who received these shots made antibodies against the hemagglutinin stem. The Vaccine Research Center has three more small trials under way, and if all goes well, it plans to launch a larger, phase-two study as early as next year. The process is slow-going, but “conceptually, I now feel we will get there,” Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told me.

And then there is cancer, the evil twin that threatens to destroy us. For as long as kids have played superheroes, researchers have dreamed of battling cancer by turning the body’s own powers against the disease. In 2010 the Food and Drug Administration approved the first therapeutic vaccine for cancer, called Provenge, for men with advanced prostate cancer. (Here’s how it works.) In clinical trials, when men were treated with Provenge, their tumors tended not to shrink. On average, though, they lived about four months longer than men who hadn’t gotten the vaccine. This isn’t revolutionary progress. Nor does it make you feel great about the $93,000 price tag.


But the effort has shown that cancer vaccines can make it to market. And maybe future versions will pack more of a punch. Scientists are now conducting a vast range of clinical trials, with phase-three trials under way for melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer, among others. Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, for example, are testing several vaccines designed to prevent recurrences in women who’ve been treated for breast cancer. Their approach is simple: Focus on a major protein found on the surface of breast cancer cells, derive fragments from that protein, then inject them into women, along with an immunity-boosting molecule, in hopes of stimulating the women’s immune systems to attack rogue cancer cells. In research presented in 2012, women who received one such vaccine cut their chances of a cancer recurrence after 22 months pretty substantially: down from approximately 18 percent to 10 percent. The approach is cheap, too: “I could personally construct this vaccine for pennies,” said Elizabeth Mittendorf, a surgical oncologist at MD Anderson. She and her colleagues are now overseeing a phase-three trial to test another, similar vaccine, with recruitment under way at about 100 sites around the world.

Imagine: A few of Poison Ivy’s powers might someday reach the rest of us, and superimmunity might be achievable for all in Gotham.


Henry Sapiecha


Friday, May 17th, 2013

Scientists have used caffeine to achieve a stem cell breakthrough that many researchers thought impossible but which could lead to new therapies for many crippling diseases.

A US team used a human skin cell to create a cloned human embryo from which they were able to extract embryonic stem cells, a world first.

Our finding offers new ways of generating stem cells. 

This technique, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, or therapeutic cloning, is ethically controversial because it involves the production, and subsequent destruction, of a human embryo.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Thursday, May 2nd, 2013


Celery is an ancient food having been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for more than 3,000 years. It is excellent for weight management diet as its high water content and fibrous nature means weight watchers can eat this vegetable a lot without fearing of weight gain. It is high in Vitamins B1 and B6, Vitamin C, calcium, fiber, folic acid, potassium, and anti-oxidants. Kidneys can benefit from celery as it helps in eliminate body waste though urine. Eating celery will reduce high blood pressure risks, relief arthritis pain and suppress cancer cells growth.

So what are you waiting for..? Go eat/cook some celery for a healthy life.

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