Archive for July, 2014

Molecular ‘eat now’ signal makes well cells devour dying neighbors cancer cells

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

A team of researchers has devised a Pac-Man-style power pellet that gets normally mild-mannered cells to gobble up their undesirable neighbors. The development may point the way to therapies that enlist patients’ own cells to better fend off infection and even cancer, the researchers say.

A healthy cell (green) that has recognized and engulfed dying cells (purple) is shown. Credit Toru Komatsu University of Tokyo image

A description of the work will be published July 15 in the journal Science Signaling.

“Our goal is to build artificial cells programmed to eat up dangerous junk in the body, which could be anything from bacteria to the amyloid-beta plaques that cause Alzheimer’s to the body’s own rogue cancer cells,” says Takanari Inoue, Ph.D., an associate professor of cell biology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, who led the study. “By figuring out how to get normally inert cells to recognize and engulf dying cells, we’ve taken an important step in that direction.”

Identifying and devouring dying cells and other “junk” is usually the job of white blood cells called macrophages and neutrophils, which also go after bacteria and other invaders in a process called phagocytosis. For the new experiments, Inoue teamed up with researchers at the University of Tokyo to strip down phagocytosis, figuring out the minimum tools one cell needs to eat another one.

They started not with macrophages, but with a type of laboratory-grown human cells known as HeLa, which normally can’t perform phagocytosis. Their first task was to induce the HeLa cells to attach to nearby dying cells by getting the right “receptors” to the HeLa cells’ surface. The researchers knew that part of a receptor protein called MFG-E8 would recognize and stick to a distress signal on the surface of dying cells, and coaxing the HeLa cells to make the protein fragment was straightforward. To get the fragment, termed C2, onto the outside of the cells, the team found a way to stick it to another protein that was bound for the cell’s surface, thus taking advantage of the cell’s own transportation system. “We put C2 on the same bus as the membrane protein,” Inoue says.

As a result, up to six dying cells stuck to each HeLa cell. The bad news was that though they were cozy, the HeLa cells weren’t actually eating the dying cells.

Fortunately, Inoue says, the team already had an idea about what to try next: Other research had shown that activating a gene called Rac would cause a cell to engulf beads stuck to its surface. Sure enough, HeLa cells with both surface C2 and activated Rac swallowed dying cells readily, the team found.

“We’ve shown it’s possible to endow ordinary cells with the power to do something unique: take on the role of a specialized macrophage,” Inoue says.

Inoue cautions that the investigators don’t believe the engulfed cells are being broken down. Getting the HeLa cells to finish the phagocytosis process will be one of the group’s next steps.

Henry Sapiecha

You can unpickle an alcohol-soaked brain after reading this article

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

pickle brain cartoon man image

If you’ve consumed too much alcohol in the past years, it is possible to unpickle your brain – but there’s a catch.

Mild pickling can cause subtle impairments that can be difficult for you to recognise, probably because you are already slightly impaired.

To do something about this, you have to be clear headed enough to recognise you are not as sharp and as functional as you were and that you could benefit from real medical help.

A report from the United Kingdom suggests 80 per cent of people with alcohol-related brain damage, ARBD, are undiagnosed.

It says three quarters of them could be helped. “Usually a person’s intellect will recover over a period of three months of complete alcohol abstinence,” the authors say.

But for those who have drunk heavily over the long term, recovery could take up to three years. Then there are some who never regain what was lost.

The report, Alcohol and Brain Damage in Adults, is the result of a collaboration between the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Association of British Neurologists.

It says ARBD is not a defined diagnostic category. Rather, it is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of conditions that affect the brain and the nervous system.

People who have it are typically active and in their 40s, 50s and 60s. They have structural and chemical changes in the areas of the brain that influence memory and executive function.

Men who consume an average of 50 standard drinks a week for five years are highly likely to have such changes.

But often these changes are not diagnosed because of a lack of awareness among health professionals and because of the stigma associated with long term alcohol misuse.

The report says as the intellect improves through abstinence and treatment, so do these changes, as visualised by scans.

Medication managed


The evidence shows optimal results can be achieved when withdrawal and the maintenance of withdrawal are managed with medication, together with ongoing counselling and support. Vitamins are often necessary too.While vitamin B1 has protective properties and is given during the acute phases of withdrawal, others are used to counter malnutrition which, in itself, can be damaging.

The report calls for a co-ordinated approach to managing ARBD.

Because there are no established pathways of care, it says people either receive no care or are directed to inappropriate care.

Some eventually land up in nursing homes designed for older people with dementia.

Providing specialist services for people with ARBD can make a dramatic improvement to their quality of life, says Kenneth Wilson, editor of the report and professor of old age psychiatry at the University of Liverpool. It can also dramatically reduce hospital admissions.

Australia doesn’t have a comprehensive approach either, says Dan Lubman, Director of Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University.

He says services are under-funded and treatment is episodic.

While a variety of services supply different forms of support to people with problematic drinking– including online and telephone services – , it is not always easy for a person to find a longer-term comprehensive package that offers both medical and psychological care, as exists for many other chronic medical conditions.

Although alcohol misuse can cause considerable bodily harm, Lubman says it is not often treated as a medical issue.

Rather, it has been seen as something that belongs in the domain of social welfare.

“We often fail to understand that alcohol is a drug that affects brain systems, which is why we take it,” says Lubman, who is also chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Section of Addiction Psychiatry.

“Because it is licit, people fail to recognise it is toxic, particularly if consumed above recommended levels regularly, and can cause problems for both the body and brain.”

It is estimated 2.5 per cent of the general population of Australia would have some alcohol-related brain changes on post mortem. The degree ranges from mild to severe.

Among heavy drinkers, some 25 per cent would have noticeable changes on post mortem.

Lubman says that the best place to go for anyone concerned about their alcohol consumption is to their general practitioner.

If necessary, from there they can be referred on to an addiction medical specialist or to a specialist alcohol treatment service.

If concerned about confidentiality, one starting point could be to seek advice anonymously online from Turning Point at

Why your recognition of your impairment is impaired

Jill Margo

A UK report says many people who have been drinking heavily for five years are unlikely to be aware of the effect this has had on their memory and their reasoning ability.

But their family, friends and employers are likely to have noticed.

These drinkers will probably also have ”furring” of their arteries in the brain which can lead to more permanent damage and can put them at risk of a stroke.

In general, their brains need up to three months of total abstinence to recover.

Recovery is much longer for serious long-term heavy drinkers. The changes in their brain are more permanent.

A major problem for them is getting enough vitamins. Even if they have good meals, many have problems absorbing vitamin B1 (thiamine). This and other vitamins are necessary for the brain to operate properly.

Without them brain damage can be permanent.

Typically, short-term memory has been affected. They appear able to maintain normal conversation but after a few minutes start to forget what has been discussed.

The same can happen to long-term memory and depending how seriously they are affected, they may lose up to 25 years’ worth of memories.

There is also a problem with false memories and when they can’t remember, they confabulate. Their brain tries to make sense of the world and fill in the gaps. They don’t recognise they are doing this.

Then there are problems with reasoning, difficulties with emotional issues and changes in behaviour.

They are unlikely to be aware that the front part of their brain, the main seat of reasoning and decision-making, is damaged.

This means they may not grasp the implications of decisions, particularly complicated ones in financial planning.

However, most can benefit from rehabilitation and dramatically improve over two to three years.

Others notice they have problems controlling impulses and managing risk. Socially they become unpredictable, they don’t comprehend the emotional needs of others and arguments or even relationship break-ups follow.

Nanoparticles cause cancer cells to self-destruct in video explained

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumour cells to ‘self-destruct’ sounds like science fiction, but could be a future part of cancer treatment, according to research from Lund University in Sweden.

WATCH: How rotating nanoparticles target cancer cells

“The clever thing about the technique is that we can target selected cells without harming surrounding tissue. There are many ways to kill cells, but this method is contained and remote-controlled”, said Professor Erik Renström.

The point of the new technique is that it is much more targeted than trying to kill cancer cells with techniques such as chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells in the body, and it therefore has serious side-effects. Radiotherapy can also affect healthy tissue around the tumour.

“Our technique, on the other hand, is able to attack only the tumour cells”, said Enming Zhang, one of the first authors of the study.

In brief, the technique involves getting the nanoparticles into a tumour cell, where they bind to lysosomes, the units in the cell that perform ‘cleaning patrols’. The lysosomes have the ability to break down foreign substances that have entered a cell. They can also break down the entire cell through a process known as ‘controlled cell death’, a type of destruction where damaged cells dissolve themselves.

The researchers have used nanoparticles of iron oxide that have been treated with a special form of magnetism. Once the particles are inside the cancer cells, the cells are exposed to a magnetic field, and the nanoparticles begin to rotate in a way that causes the lysosomes to start destroying the cells.

The research group at Lund University is not the first to try and treat cancer using supermagnetic nanoparticles. However, previous attempts have focused on using the magnetic field to create heat that kills the cancer cells. The problem with this is that the heat can cause inflammation that risks harming surrounding, healthy tissue. The new method, on the other hand, in which the rotation of the magnetic nanoparticles can be controlled, only affects the tumour cells that the nanoparticles have entered.

The new technique is primarily intended for cancer treatment, but according to Erik Renström and his colleague Enming Zhang there may be other areas of application. One example is autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own insulin production.

The ‘superparamagnetic nanoparticles’ have attracted a lot of interest from academia and industry in recent years. They are being tested in research on new diagnostic laboratory tests, new methods of viewing phenomena in living tissue, and new drugs.

The researchers at Lund University have a patent pending for their technique with the rotating nanoparticles. However, a lot of work remains before it can be transferred from the laboratory to clinical trials on patients.

The study is a collaboration between physicists, chemists, engineers and doctors from Sweden, Germany and the USA. It has been published in the American journal ACS Nano.

Professor Erik Renström, Lund University
+46 40 39 11 57

Dr Enming Zhang, researcher at Lund University
+46 40 39 11 64

Henry Sapiecha

Testicular cancer in a young man has him baffled & bewildered

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014


Jill Margo Health editor

As soon as he left the doctor’s con­sulting rooms, Simon Clarke got into his car and opened Google. The shock hadn’t quite hit him as he scrolled down and began looking for information about testicular cancer.

At 23, he was entirely unprepared for the diagnosis he had just received. Not only had he never met anyone with this type of cancer, but he had only vaguely heard of it and had ­erroneously assumed it was something that affected older men.

Simon Clarke wants younger men to know about male cancers so they don’t ­stumble into it the way he did.image

Simon Clarke wants younger men to know about male cancers so they don’t ­stumble into it the way he did


Now, sitting outside the family ­doctor’s rooms on Sydney’s north shore, he couldn’t absorb what he was reading and he noticed his lunch break was almost over.

“I didn’t know what else to do so I drove back to work,“ says Simon, then an intern at corporate advisory firm Gresham Partners. By evening, the news had sunk in and he told his ­parents. Then he told others.

A few weeks earlier, in early Nov­ember 2012, he’d felt a dull ache in his stomach. It was a stressful time because he was in the final period of exams for his commerce and science degree at Sydney University and was also working as an intern.

The ache was constant. “There was nothing to see and initially the doctor told me not to worry about it. But it still didn’t go away and so two weeks later I went back and said ‘I just don’t feel right’.”

The pain was coming from his lower abdomen, towards his right groin, and the doctor ran tests which showed nothing. But Clarke persisted and his doctor upscaled the tests. Within another two weeks he had a CT scan and an MRI.

My life had changed in 20 minutes


Then he got the phone call and slipped out to the appointment during lunch. “I remember he looked down and told me I have testicular cancer. I didn’t even know [that possibility] was on the table and there we were, discussing an operation.

“In the space of 20 minutes my life had changed.”

And the change would be significant. It would shift Clarke’s focus off himself. Rather than taking privilege for granted, he would realise what he had and what he could potentially do for others.

Born to Australian parents in New York, he had spent part of his childhood there before the family returned to Sydney and he went to Knox ­Grammar, where he excelled academ­ically and at sport.

Apart from several sport-related broken bones, he had been in excellent health. The world lay open before him. He’d travelled widely and there had never been cause for him to pause to consider where he was going.

The diagnosis, however, stopped him in his tracks. “Despite solid family support, it was a solitary time and it gave me an opportunity for introspection I might not otherwise have had.”

He spent Christmas in hospital having surgery to remove his right testicle and during his recuperation he began reordering his priorities.

Testicular cancer is younger man’s disease


He’d noticed the impact his diag­nosis had on friends. While they joked about it and suggested he get an upsized prosthesis and a specially tailored suit to show it off, they were deeply shocked.They too didn’t know that testicular cancer is a younger man’s disease and that in Australia, the average age of diagnosis is the mid-30s.

It was so confronting, Simon wished he’d been forewarned.

To safeguard his fertility he had banked sperm before the operation and had then declined a prosthesis, ­preferring to live with himself the way he now was.

But what to do next? The lack of ­consensus among his specialists was worrying.

“I was constantly trying to learn more about my options, but what scared me was that in the space of a couple of weeks, I saw multiple ­specialists and they all advised me to do slightly different things. One said I should do chemo, one said I should have radiation and another said I should do nothing, just be in remission and have regular tests – if it spread I could take further action then.”

Simon took comfort from the fact that testicular cancer is highly treat­able, with relative survival higher than 97 per cent. While he prefers not to use the word “cure”, he opted to watch and wait.

“It was a tough decision and now every quarter I have scans and a series of tests to make sure there are no signs of cancer.”

Now an associate at Gresham, Simon has two personal goals.

He wants younger men to know about male cancers so they don’t ­stumble into it the way he did. And he wants to raise funds for research to understand more about these “below-the-belt” male cancers.

The Below the Belt Pedalthon


Such research is conducted by ANZUP, Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group.

It is the kind of research that can’t be done by drug companies.

Using his own funds, and with the support of ANZUP and the help of friends, Simon has organised a cycling challenge at The Sydney Motor Sport Park (Eastern Creek) this September.

Called the Below the Belt Pedalthon, it challenges teams to complete the most laps possible within four hours on the closed track.

Throughout the day there are also a series of mini challenges. In true race style, garages in the main pit lane will accommodate teams of up to eight cyclists each.

The teams – of men and women and of both avid and recreational cyclists – will be drawn from the ­business ­community.

For his target market Simon is following a model set by the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge, which began as a modest fun run and is now a major international event.

Simon – who is not to be confused with the professional Australian cyclist of the same name – devised, wrote and published a sponsorship prospectus and has a target profit of $100,000 in the first year.

All funds raised will go directly to ANZUP, apart from a minor fee to the fund-raising platform.

While the group’s infrastructure is funded by ­Cancer Australia, each clinical trial needs its own funding stream, so ap­plying for grants, which it does, can take several years.

To kick off a pilot study to test the ­feasibility of a promising drug, surgery or post-operative care, the group needs between $30,000 and $250,000. Kicking off a clinical trial requires more than $1 million.

Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, July 8th, 2014


In a world first, Australian and Dutch researchers have shown how new imaging technology can greatly improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

While this technology involves magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, which has been in use in Australia for two years, they are the first to publish high-quality research showing it works.

Their study, published in the journal European Urology, showed it halved the number of men needing to proceed to a prostate biopsy.

It also reduced the problem of over-diagnosis of non-life threatening disease by about 90 per cent.

In diagnosing life-threatening prostate cancer, this new technique had a sensitivity of 92 per cent. This compares with 70 per cent for men who have the standard biopsy performed through the rectum.

The research was conducted out of Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital by urologist Les Thompson and specialist radiologist Rob Parkinson, together with research fellow Morgan Pokorny from Queensland University of Technology.

They collaborated with Europe’s “Mr Prostate”, Jelle Barentsz, a professor at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.

Improved accuracy


The new technology is known as mpMRI which stand for multi-parametric MRI – because it uses several parameters. Not only does it significantly improve accuracy of diagnosis, but it has the potential to save men pain, discomfort and infection. It can save them from having multiple biopsies.

The standard biopsy through the rectum is guided by ultrasound can involve 12 to 30 needles randomly fired into the prostate to detect cancer.

With mpMRI followed by an MRI guided biopsy, as few as two needles may be required because the suspicious area has been so well defined.

“With MRI biopsies you know you are in the lesion because you can take a picture of the needle in the lesion,” says Ron Shnier, of Southern Radiology.

Surgeon’s task easier


He has been working in the area of MRI imaging for prostate for a decade. In the last two years, as technology has improved and more data has become available, he says the use of MRI in this cancer has grown exponentially.

The latest study is “ground breaking” and another step in solving the diagnosis dilemma.

He says there will be a positive flow-on for men seeking surgery. Rather than going into the operation with 20 or 30 biopsy holes in their prostate, which could be inflamed or scarred, they will be going in with two to four holes, which will make the surgeon’s task easier.

The study involved 223 men with high blood levels of PSA, prostate specific antigen, who had both a standard biopsy and mpMRI imaging of their prostates.Those whose MRI images pointed to high-risk cancer underwent MRI guided biopsy to pinpoint cancer.

The Australian Financial Review


Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Fluorescence microscopy helps explain how stiffness in breast tissue contributes to breast cancer


A team of researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have—with the help of fluorescence microscopy—identified a possible mechanism by which normal cells turn malignant in mammary epithelial tissues, the tissues frequently involved in breast cancer. Dense mammary tissue has long been recognized as a strong indicator of risk for breast cancer; until now, however, the significance of that tissue density has been poorly understood.

Related: Photoacoustic mammoscopy aims for safer, earlier breast cancer screening

By isolating mechanical and biological variables one by one in vitro, David J. Mooney, Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS, and his research team have discovered how the physical forces and chemical environment in those dense tissues can drive cells into a dangerously invasive, proliferating mode.

Mammary epithelial tissue structures undergo characteristic changes as tumors progress from benign to invasive. These human breast cancer tissue samples illustrate the difference image

“While genetic mutations are at the root of cancer, a number of studies over the last 10 to 20 years have implicated the cellular microenvironment as playing a key role in promoting or suppressing tumor progression,” says lead author Ovijit Chaudhuri, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Mooney Lab at Harvard who recently joined the mechanical engineering faculty at Stanford University. The new research finds that the stiffness of the extracellular matrix and the availability of certain ligands (molecules that bind to cell membranes) can together determine which genes are actually called on—and whether normal epithelial cells begin to exhibit the behaviors characteristic of highly malignant cancer cells. “Our findings suggest that evaluating the composition of this microenvironment, in addition to mammographic density, could potentially provide a better assessment of breast cancer risk,” Chaudhuri says.

Research in the Mooney Laboratory explores how the physical properties of natural biomaterials and synthetic polymers can affect how cells sense their environment, react to it, and signal to one another. The extracellular matrix—the complex network of crosslinked proteins and polymers that connects living cells to one another and facilitates communication between them—offers a challenging subject for study. The usual two-dimensional culture of cells on petri dishes has proven to be a poor model of three-dimensional tissues.

“As bioengineers, we can now design 3D culture systems where environmental parameters such as composition, porosity, and stiffness can be precisely tuned to study the importance of these cues on tumorigenesis,” says coauthor Sandeep Koshy, a Harvard graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, who works in Mooney’s lab at Harvard SEAS and at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. “We’re seeing that some of these factors have a major impact on cell behavior that is not possible to observe in conventional 2D cell cultures.”

Prior studies have used varying amounts of a fibrous protein called collagen to adjust the stiffness of the extracellular matrix, but Mooney’s team recognized early on that collagen has more than a simple mechanical effect on cells: it can also trigger certain signaling pathways. Fibrous collagen is not normally found in the basement membrane that surrounds the mammary epithelium, so any collagen signaling could confound the conclusions of those studies.

This diagram shows a cell encapsulated in an interpenetrating network of alginate (blue) and reconstituted basement membrane matrix (green). image

To eliminate uncontrolled variables, the team designed a new material model that uses alginate gel, instead of collagen, to stiffen the extracellular matrix without binding to any cell receptors. When this model was in its softest mode, normal (benign) mammary epithelial cells behaved normally within it, forming cellular structures referred to as acini that capture many key features of the normal in vivo mammary epithelium. But when the gel was stiffer, the cells began to upregulate the expression of cancer-related genes, and activity of the PI3K pathway that is known to drive cell proliferation and invasion increased.

“The invasive structures we observed in our stiff matrices resemble the morphology of early-stage invasive ductal carcinoma. They also show increased expression of the estrogen receptor alpha [ER+] gene that drives cell division,” says Koshy. “It is striking that these changes, found in many human cancers, can be induced in normal mammary epithelial cells simply by varying the stiffness or composition of the matrix surrounding them.”

Further experiments also indicated that the cells would recover their normal behavior in high-stiffness gels if they were exposed to increasing concentrations of laminin, a protein naturally found in the basement membrane.

These confocal immunofluorescence images show how stiffness disrupts the formation of hemidesmosomes in the cell membranes image

When the extracellular matrix is very flexible, or when a high concentration of laminin is readily available, proteins called α6β4 integrins within the cell membrane bind with laminin to form small structures called hemidesmosomes, which anchor the epithelial cells to the basement membrane. But fluorescence microscopy revealed that the cells in a stiff matrix were not forming hemidesmosomes at all, so Mooney’s team hypothesized that a stiffer matrix and a shortage of laminin was leaving the α6β4 integrins with dangling, unbound tails.

The team’s final experiments demonstrated that these unbound integrin tails, indeed, get up to no good: they participate in the activation of two key biochemical pathways (PI3K and Rac1) that are necessary and sufficient to induce malignant cell behaviors in the in vitro epithelial tissue.

The Harvard researchers proposed a mechanism to explain how the stiffness and composition of the extracellular matrix could activate signaling pathways image

“If further studies validate that these processes are critical in human breast cancers,” Koshy notes, “the possibility exists that agents that favorably modify the biophysical properties of the extracellular matrix, or that target the receptors and signaling molecules associated with how cells sense this matrix, could be used as a new avenue for the prevention or treatment of breast cancers.”

In addition to the implications of this research for cancer biology, the development of the alginate-based extracellular matrix model is also significant.

“Studies of many other biological processes could benefit from the use of this system,” says Mooney, who in addition to his role at Harvard SEAS is also a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute. “Studies on stem cell biology, wound healing, and development in a variety of tissues and organs could utilize this system.”

To view more details on the work, which appears in the journal Nature Materials, please visit

Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

FOUR babies born with HIV were apparently cleared of the infection in a major breakthrough fuelling hopes of a cure for AIDS.


Details of the Canadian cases will be discussed at an AIDS conference in Melbourne this month.

Breakthroughs in the quest for an AIDS vaccine, the fight to cure people living with HIV of co-infections such as hepatitis C and tuberculosis, and the impact of discriminatory policies in other nations are also expected to announced.

AIDS 2014 co-chairman Professor Sharon Lewin said the significance of the findings would focus international attention­ on the July 20-25 gathering.

“It will be exciting for Melbourne and for the world to have this great meeting of minds to discuss the latest breakthroughs in science, politics and community action in all aspects of the global response­ to HIV,” Prof Lewin said.

The Canadian infants, born to HIV-positive mothers, were all given high doses of three antiretroviral drugs in the first few hours after birth.

The virus, which had been present in their systems at birth, could not be found later.

Babies were given anti retroviral drugs in the few hours after birth to fight the HIV virus. Source: News Limited

The cases follow the success of the so-called “Mississippi Baby”, who was last year revealed­ as the first confirmed case of a baby being cured of HIV.

Babies were given antiretroviral drugs in the few hours after birth to fight the HIV virus image


The US baby’s mother was only discovered to be HIV positive during labour and missed out on the normal treatment to prevent her passing the virus on to her child.

When tests revealed the infant­ had contracted HIV the baby was given an aggressive three-drug treatment from 31 hours after birth.

University of Mississippi Medical Centre doctors were stunned when the virus could not be found 29 days later.

Traditionally, the antiretroviral treatment is only able to suppress HIV and make it dormant; however, the infant was later able to stop medication completely without the virus remerging, raising hope that treatment immediately after birth or infection may be a cure.

Revealing the latest cases, Dr Ari Bitnun of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto warned it was too early to know if his team’s patients could be considered as cured.

Ethical considerations for the children’s wellbeing mean that unlike the Mississippi Baby the four Canadian children have not been taken off their medication, and it is not known if the virus would remerge­ if their treatment is stopped.

Adding to concerns, a fifth HIV-infected Canadian child whose virus also became undetectable had to be taken off the treatment at age three, due to complications, and the virus quickly returned.

The increasing but isolated cases of apparent cures began with the “Berlin patient” who overcame HIV following a bone-marrow transplant to treat cancer.

Henry Sapiecha

18 year old Logan Stiner is dead because of too much caffeine powder

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

The caffeine powder in one teaspoon is equivalent to around 30 cups of coffee..


coffee types x 6 cups image

“IF you want proof that hard work pays off,” school student Logan Stiner tweeted as he stood on top of the dias at a sporting event.

But just weeks later, Stiner, 18, described as “a top student, a top athlete, and a great kid”, died from taking too much caffeine, ABC 10 News reported.

The pupil from Keystone High School in LaGrange, Ohio, was found unresponsive by his brother at his family’s home in Elyria after heading home for lunch from school in May. The promising wrestler was pronounced dead at the scene just a week before his graduation.

CAFFEINE: How much are you consuming?

Bought caffeine powder online … Logan Stiner, 18, died from the amount being toxic to his body. Picture: YouTube Source: Supplied


Stiner did not take drugs and only drank the occasional cup of coffee.

His mother Katie Stiner found bags of caffeine powder in the house, Chronicle Online reported.

She said she did not know he took caffeine powder but he had once mentioned taking some kind of substance as a “pre-workout,” she said.

Lorain County Coroner Steven Evans said when Stiner died, he had a toxic level of caffeine in his blood after ingesting caffeine powder. The overdose caused cardiac arrhythmia and a seizure.

Evans said he had heard of only 18 other deaths from caffeine overdoses in the US but warned that caffeine powder was becoming increasingly popular among teenagers and can be bought online.

“I think it’s dangerous. I didn’t realise it was sold in bulk over the internet,” Evans said.

Stiner was found with more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per millilitre of blood in his system. Evans said the normal amount of caffeine in an energy drink is three to 15 micrograms and 50 micrograms is considered a lethal dose.

Logan Stiner Video Tribute

“He was a young, healthy guy. People don’t realise (caffeine) could potentially kill you,” Evans said.

“Since it’s a powder, he probably doesn’t know how much he was taking.”

It can be purchased online and is mixed into water or soda, said Evans. About 1/16 of a teaspoon of the powder is equal to one can of Mountain Dew or any high-powered caffeine drink.

“He had no clue what he was doing,” Logan’s mother said.

Logan was well-liked at school by his teachers and peers. Videos have been made as a tribute and a benefit was held on Sunday (AEDT) to help pay the costs of his funeral.

Logan Stiner Video Tribute 2

Henry Sapiecha