Monday, May 08, 2006

Nanoparticles Annihilate Prostate Cancer

This article discusses the possibility of using nanoparticles to fight prostate cancer. Modern chemotherapies attack tumors with the equivalent of a machinegun approach: cover the area widely with deadly fire and hope to destroy the tumor with a minimum of collateral damage. Doctors have long sought a way to precisely target tumors with their chemical therapies. Now researchers may have found it in a nanoparticle laced with a cancer-combating drug. Omid Farokhzad of Harvard University, who was conducting the test said that, "A single injection of our nanoparticles completely eradicated the tumors in five of the seven treated animals and the remaining animals had significant tumor reduction compared to the controls." Further tests will be needed to ensure that the nanoparticle is safe in animals and, eventually, in humans afflicted with prostate cancer.

Vaccine preservatives

Remembering being a kid and running around everywhere with out a care in the world? Well one day I soing the samething and ended up on a nail, parents being overprotective insisted I get the tetnus shot, I did. For the next two weeks I was not able to use my arm on and was very ill, turns out I like thousands of others are allergic to preservative in vaccines. While the number of austic children incresases in the U.S we have to begin to wonder weather or not vaccine preservatives are part of the problem. A new study by the CDC is begining to research the problem and have found that 5.5 children out of 1000 have autism if this is do in some part to vaccines would you vacinate your children? I think everyone should do research and find out what is in the best interest of their child. Here is the article:,2933,194277,00.html

Super Asprin

After a family member was diagnosed with heart disease and the doctors were going over possible interventions we began to research the best doctors and procedures for combat the problem. While they endend up getting balloon angioplasty, having abciximab as an option would have been nice. The article I found the other day would have been something to futher to look into last summer. Basically, with complications following balloon angioplasty, Thomas Jefferson University have found that an intravenous "super aspirin" called abciximab given in the cat lav before angioplasty can prevent platelets from sticking to arterial walls and reclogging vessels. Here is the link to the article:

Stomach Wall Pacemaker and Bionic Arm

I came across this article which briefly described a woman who lost 84 pounds without breaking a sweat. They implanted a pacemaker with electrodes connected to her stomach wall which sends her signals making her feel full faster and with much less food. I imagine they are closely connected to the mechano receptors which signal when the stomach wall is stretched. The other part of the article discusses a man who lost his arms and now has bionic arms which he can control with his nervous system. Dr. Kuiken took a minimally damaged nerves from the man's original arm and attached them to his chest. When the brain fires a signal to the nerve it activates and electrode which then signal the new arm.


I just thought this would be interesting if anyone wanted to watch it. ABC will be airing , FATAL CONTACT: BIRD FLU IN AMERICA, an ABC original movie about if the H5N1 virus were to hit us. Thought we might enjoy watchin it.

It will air on Tuesday May 9, at 7:00 pm. central time.

A Heart Attack That Heals

This article is on a new treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy( where the heart muscle gets so large that it begins to obstruct blood flow). Supposedly by causing the patient to have a small heart attack the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to go away. The small heart attack causes some of the heart muscle to die and by strategically ingecting alcohol into the heart muscle this can be achieved to the effect of decreasing the heart's muscle mass.

For more information here is the article:

Baby to Brain

This article was found in Scientific American and tells that researchers found that cells from mice fetuses can migrate into a mother's brain and apparently develop into nervous system cells. Scientists have known for years that fetal cells can enter a mother's blood; in humans, they may remain there at least 27 years after birth. The neurobiologists bred normal female mice with males genetically modified to uniformly express a green fluorescent protein. They found green fetal cells in the mothers' brains. The fetal cells transformed into what seem like neurons, astrocytes , oligodendrocytes, and macrophages. Moreover, after the scientists chemically injured the mouse brains, nearly six times as many fetal cells made their way to damaged areas than elsewhere, suggesting the cells could be responding to molecular distress signals released by the brain. Just how the fetal cells make it through the capillaries separating the brain from the blood system is not known--the cells of the vessels are densely packed, preventing most compounds from crossing the barrier.

The article can be found at

Bioengineers at Work

Bioengineers at Work
I was wondering about how bacteria can become drug resistant and I ran across this article. It talks about a study that defines the structure of a certain multidrug transporter on E. Coli Bacteria.
Apparently transporters like this one are responsible for expelling drugs from the cell in which they are found. The researchers think that by knowing the X ray structure of the protien, they can determine how it chooses which drugs to expel. If they figure it out, they could find a solution for drug resistant bacteria.
Clark Needham

H5N1 Flu Update

Bioengineers at Work
It has been a month or two since we had our SNBAL over the avain flu so this is just a quick update. Indionesia has recently had a few more fatalities bringing their year-to-date numbers to 16-cases, and 14 deaths. Iraq and Cambodia are now also reporting cases of avian flu with numbers of 2-cases, and 2-deaths each. Also Egypt and Turkey are close behind Indonesia in cases reported with 13 and 12 respectively. People who are comming down with H5N1 are still the people who work around birds. The flu is continuously spreading and by some estimates North America will be producing cases of avian flu in the next few months.

RNAi and its potential use in patients against disease

The attached link talks about RNAi, which has been discovered only relatively recently and has enormous potential for curing several diseases, including AIDS, cancer, and Huntington's.

Lung capacity and Yoga

When we were discussing lungs in class, a question was asked pertaining to yoga. Researchers have been conducting research on trying to pinpoint the benefits of yoga. One of the many benefits of yoga, is that the lung capacity increases. According to research from Khon Kaen University, young and healthy Thais who participated in 18 short yoga sessions showed significant improvements in their lung function.
"This research suggests that short-term yoga exercise improves respiratory breathing capacity by increasing chest wall expansion and forced expiratory lung volumes," said lead researcher Raoyrin Chanavirut. "These findings may benefit people suffering from illnesses that affect breathing, including asthma."
This study was done using Hatha Yoga, one of the many different types of yoga. Their experiment, which took 58 people, around 20 years of age, to participate in a 6-week study. Half the volunteers performed 5 positions of Hatha Yoga, during 20 - minutes session, for only 3 times a week. The rest of the people went about their lives as usual.
The results were as such:

  • strengthened inspiratory muscle
  • better chest expansion
  • stronger expiratory muscle
  • less airway obstructions

The Article

I am going to take a walk on a thin limb here and criticize modern medicine. Even though today's medicine has worked wonders, I believe that the pharmaceutical companies are not out there to make us all better. I believe that there are natural remedies to a lot of the diseases, and a lot of the health problems that we see today. One does not need to go on diet pills to lose weight, just exercise regularly and eat healthily. I know today's society makes it soo much easier to buy into the big pharmaceutical gimmicks. They want you to be hooked on their stuff, because if their medicines cured you quickly, then they might run out of business... Well the point being, there are a lot of natural remedies that we, Americans, either don't know about, or care not to look into, simply because of convenience factor. As seen above, yoga can help with asthma. 20 minutes 3 times a week, can better lung function by 7 folds, then why are we still hooked on inhalers???
Just my 1 % of my 2-cent on today's world.... Hope you enjoyed my ranting. Have a nice summer.

- Sumedh Mankar

P.S. in my previous post, I did not mean to say, hiccups cause cancer. What I meant to say is that, excessive hiccup can be a symptom of cancer.

Modified Adenovirus Can Kill Glioma Cells

Researchers have discovered that an enzyme called hTERT-Ad can be used to selectively kill brain cancer cells. The enzyme is already found in the body where it directs adrenovirus function. The catch it seems is that it will only work on cancerous cells containing an enzyme called telomerase. If the cancerous cells have telomerase the enzyme hTERT-Ad causes the cells to digest themselves and die. This research is being conducted at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Bioengineers at Work

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What's in a Yawn

Everyone knows that yawns are contagious, but what is the reason behind the respiratory phenomenon. Yawning has been seen in many other vertebrates besides humans, and even the contagious characteristic of yawns is seen in other animals, such as monkeys. Many people believed that an increase in CO2 levels or a decrease in oxygen levels within the body would trigger a yawn, however in the article below, the author cites research claiming this is not the case. However, it is true that we yawn when we are tired, hungry, or just waking up. So why do we do this? Well, no one knows for sure, but some scientists speculate that this is an important part in changing emotional or physiological states. For example, when you wake up in the morning, and yawn and stretch, this is probably an important part in rearranging internal organs, and changing self perception, playing an important role in the change from tired and lethargic to aware and awake. Also, support for this hypothesis is found when professional athletes yawn before a big event. I know I always yawn when I workout, excessively. This could possibly be a mechanism for the body to change to a more aware state, or trigger attentiveness. Hope you enjoyed a good yawn while reading this article; maybe now you'll be slightly more attentive and aware while studying.

Onset of respiration in infants delivered by cesarean section

I saw this and thought it was interesting, especially in regards to the discussions we had in class about the mechanics of a neonate’s first breath. Studies were done to observe the breathing of a babies delivered by cesarean-section. The results showed that the initial breathing is comparable to a baby delivered vaginally.

Muscle Fatigue: Lactic Acid or Inorganic Phosphate the Major Cause?

This article presents the idea that muscle fatigue caused by acidosis is more limited than previously thought; and the level of inorganic phosphate (Pi) may be the main cause of muscle fatigue. I found this very interesting.

Pyloric Stenosis

According to my parents, back when I was about 2 weeks old, I couldn't keep anything down. Everything I ate always came back up. They tried different formulas, but to no avail. When they took me to the doctor, they diagnosed it as pyloric stenosis. They performed the surgery with a tiny 1-inch cut, which left a scar just below my right ribs. Now it's a giant 4-inch scar.

Pyloric stenosis is the narrowing of the pylorus, which eventually blocks the contents of the stomach from entering the duodenum. The only way out then is the way it came, sometimes forcefully (think projectiles). The surgical operation to correct pyloric stenosis is pyloromyotomy, where the muscle of the pyloric valve is cut and spread open.

What I didn't know was that it is relatively common, occurring in 2 to 3 in every 1000 babies born in the U.S. and that it may be a genetically linked disorder, though no one in my family has had it to my knowledge.

For more information, visit:
Texas Pediatric Surgical Associates

Romans cured cataracts

I watched a show on the history channel which showed evidence that the Romans could cure cataracts and actually performed brain surgery following trauma to the head (soldiers and gladiators). The way they dealt with cataracts was to insert a needle into the eyeball and pushed the lens aside, as it is not necessary for sight. This process is called couching. In addition, skulls were found with perfectly circular holes drilled in their skulls, and the skulls surprisingly showed signs of healing; meaning the patients survived the trauma. Although it cannot be proven that the doctors knew they were releasing the pressure (it is hypothesized that the doctors thought there were evil spirits inside), it is still impressive to be able to successfully perform brain surgery.

Caspase Inhibition May Retard Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition wherein a failing heart significantly increases its size in an effort to meet the metabolic needs of the body. While this is not a rare cardiovascular pathology by any measure, much of the mechanisms which govern this phenomenon are still not well understood. To date, there is no known therapy which is guaranteed revert a dilated myocardium to its normal size. A leading hypothesis, however, is that the cardiomyocytes of a myopathic myocardium will undergo cell apoptosis, which ultimately promotes ventricular failure (see SNBAL-2, “Controversies in Ventricular Remodelling”). If this hypothesis is supported, an obvious therapy for patients suffering from DCM would involve the inhibition of cell apoptosis.

Research published in a 2003 edition of Circulation suggests that such inhibition may well be possible. One of the chief caspases—enzymes involved in cell apoptosis—in the mouse-model of dilated cardiomyopathy has been identified in pregnant mice (pregnant mice are particularly helpful in the study of DCM because the normal volume/pressure overloading characteristics that they experience due to pregnancy roughly model the overloading characteristics present in DCM). The inhibition of this caspase has important implications for the cell apoptosis allegedly responsible for DCM:

Caspase inhibitors may block and possibly reverse the death program. Caspase inhibitors may also inhibit the cleavage of multiple intramyocyte substrates, including sarcomeric components, degradation of which may cause contractile dysfunction.”

Their research has already shown caspase inhibitors to be effective in blocking cell apoptosis (and thereby blocking heart failure) in pregnant mice. If this model carries over into human physiology, these findings could be hope for the many sufferers of this fatal disease.

For more information, see the referenced Circulation article from the American Heart Association, Inc. .

Spray Flue Vaccine for children

In this article it talks about a nasal spray flu vaccine for kids over the age of 5 that works alot better then the widely accepted flu shot. This seems like a lot better way of giving the flu vaccination to children in the first place rather then sticking them with a needle that they are afraid of. In the article it says that it is the only flu vaccine offered now that has live (but weakened) flu virus in it. Something i found interesting in this article was that it said that kids were the main spreaders of the flu virus. Having this new flu vaccine that works better then the shot could help decrease the spread of the virus from children to the elerdly and save many lives.

Here is the link to the article where you can find more info:

Second Face Transplant

After reading Jeff's blog about the first face transplant, I decided to see if there have been any other face transplants. The second ever face transplant was a Chinese man who had sustained injury from a Black Bear attack. He received a new upper lip, cheek and nose from a brain-dead donor. Doctors say that his scars will fade over time but that the difference in skin color will remain forever. His doctors also say it will be two months until they are sure that Guoxing has not rejected the new tissue. Until then his doctors will remain especially alert to any signs of rejection.

For more information, check out this article .

Cystic Fibrosis and Gene Therapy

When studying for the final I became interested in finding out a little more about Cystic Fibrosis since we never had a student lecture over it.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene causes the body to produce an abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. These thick secretions also obstruct the pancreas, preventing digestive enzymes from reaching the intestines to help break down and absorb food. The mucus also can block the bile duct in the liver, eventually causing permanent liver damage in approximately six percent of people with CF.

*We learned that this thick mucus is caused by the CFTR channels being mutated and therefore Cl- is not moved through the membrane.

More than 10 million Americans are unknowing, symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene. An individual must inherit two defective CF genes—one from each parent—to have CF. CF occurs in approximately one of every 3,500 live births. About 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year. More than 80 percent of patients are diagnosed by age three; however, nearly 10 percent of newly diagnosed cases are age 18 or older.

People with CF have a variety of symptoms including: very salty-tasting skin (*who tastes their own skin??); persistent coughing; wheezing or shortness of breath; an excessive appetite but poor weight gain; and greasy, bulky stools. Symptoms vary from person to person due to the excess of mutations of the CF gene.

The sweat test is the standard diagnostic test for CF. A sweat test should be performed at a CF Foundation-accredited care center where strict guidelines are followed to ensure accurate results. This simple and painless procedure measures the amount of salt in the sweat. A high salt level indicates CF.

The treatment of CF depends upon the stage of the disease and the organs involved. Clearing mucus from the lungs is an important part of the daily CF treatment regimen. Chest physical therapy is a form of airway clearance done by vigorous clapping on the back and chest to dislodge the thick mucus from the lungs. Other types of treatments include tobramycin solution for inhalation, an aerosolized antibiotic used to treat lung infections; Pulmozyme®, a mucus-thinning drug shown to reduce the number of lung infections and improve lung function; and azithromycin, an antibiotic recently proven to be effective in people with CF whose lungs are chronically infected with the common Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. In addition, approximately 90 percent of all people with CF take pancreatic enzyme supplements to help them absorb food in digestion.

According to the CF Foundation's National Patient Registry, the median age of survival for a person with CF is in the mid-30s. As more advances have been made in the treatment of CF, the number of adults with CF has steadily grown. Today, nearly 40 percent of the CF population is age 18 and older. Adults, however, may experience additional health challenges including CF-related diabetes and osteoporosis. CF also can cause reproductive problems—more than 95 percent of men with CF are sterile. But, with new technologies, some are becoming fathers. Although many women with CF are able to conceive, limited lung function and other health factors may make it difficult to carry a child to term.

When scientists discovered the cystic fibrosis gene in 1989, they envisioned using normal genes as "drugs" to replace the defective genes to cure the disease. In theory, gene therapy corrects the basic, genetic defect that causes CF, rather than only treating the symptoms. Researchers must be able to add enough normal genes to CF airways to correct the defective cells with the goal of retaining existing lung function and preventing any further damage.

Researchers are developing innovative gene delivery systems to determine the best way to deposit healthy genes into the airways of people with CF. These "healthy" genes are manufactured in a laboratory using state-of-the-art biotechnology. Modified viruses that target the airways and compacted DNA are among the vectors being refined for potential gene transfer. Ideally, the healthy gene will be delivered via an inhaled aerosol or through a vein.

Recently, researchers have tested the safety of the adeno-associated virus delivery system, which is a method that is less likely to trigger the body's immune response than the adenovirus, another potential treatment. They are also monitoring patients to detect whether the normal CF gene has "turned on." If it has, the CF gene should produce a normal protein (the CFTR channel) that can transport ions across the cell membrane, a process that is vital to the health of cells lining the respiratory tract.

Another example of a possible gene delivery method is a unique compacted DNA technology, known as PLASmin™, which compresses individual molecules of DNA to their minimum size. The small size of these molecules facilitates the uptake of the DNA into the cell and into the nucleus without a virus or other vector to carry it. The unique capability of the PLASmin™ technology appears to be safe when tested in humans and could lead to a successful form of gene therapy for CF.

The first experimental dose of a gene therapy treatment was given to a person with CF in the spring of 1993.

A website that explained much of the information about Cystic Fibrosis was Check it out.

Genetic predisposition to diabetes high in Indians

Genes play an important role in determining the quality of life we live.

Pro12Ala of PPAR-gamma2 (Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor - gamma2) gene protects against Diabetic Type II. Polymorphism of this gene occurred in both Caucasian and Indians, but, as it turned out - this polymorphed gene offered protection to Caucasians and not to Indians. The reason to this phenomenon is unknown.

Ben Krier / Kuru

My second post to the blog is about a deadly disease known as Kuru. I heard about this disease because my friend was writing a paper on it. Kuru is a disease that originated in certain tribes of New Guinea. The disease was discovered in the 1950’s. Kuru is a prion disease. A prion is a small proteinaceous infectious particle that resists inactivation procedures that modify nucleic acids, and they are found in the nervous system. Kuru was spread from person to person in New Guinea because the tribe members engaged in cannibalism. The prion protein was in the brain of the deceased and when the other tribe members ate the brain they contracted the disease. Kuru is in a family of diseases that causes loss of motor control, paralysis, and eventually death.


Cheap diuretics are looking to be a very good way to treat high blood pressure and prevent heart failure. Diuretics lower blood pressure by ridding the body of extra water through urination. Patients who use calcium-channel blockers or ACE inhibitors were 40% more likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure than were those taking diuretics. This study by the American Heart Association supports the U.S. government recommendation that patients with high blood pressure be treated with diuretics first before trying ACE-inhibitors or beta blockers.

Here's the link.

Face Transplant

A lady in France, Isabelle Dinoire, had a large chunk of her face mauled off by her pet Labrador. She was the first recipient of a face transplant. After her dog attacked her, she was missing most of her nose, mouth, and chin. Now, 5 months after the transplant, she has full feeling in her new face tissue.

Initially after the surgery, she underwent massive anti-rejection treatment and had to take a total of 20 pill per day! Now she is down to only 10. She also has to visit doctors every week and examine her new skin daily. Although she has fully regained the feeling in her face and is getting accustomed to her new look, she still has not replaced all of the mirrors she removed from her house after the accident.

Here's the article...

Bird Flu

The United Sates has given one billion dollars in contracts to five drug companies to develop a flu vaccine. These contracts have been given to companies over seas in hopes that they can develop the vaccine more quickly. The companies are: GlaxoSmithKline PLC in Britain, MedImmune Inc., Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in Switzerland, DynPort Vaccine Co. and Solvay Pharmaceuticals in Belgium. Of 31 prototype vaccines being human tested, only six of them are able to go through the fast track production that the United States currently wants. There is a fear that up to two million American could potentially fall to the bird flu virus. In June, the Unites States will meet with the European Union to discuss strategies to combat the virus.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis has developed a H1N5 vaccine, which has successfully been tested in animals. The vaccine has been shown to protect mice and ferrets from the H1N5 flu virus. The company, Vical, saw a very quick and dramatic increase in their stock when the report was released. These results show potential, but much more research must be done before this is a definite vaccine.
"Research group Datamonitor believes the flu vaccine market could exceed $3 billion by 2010 in the top seven markets alone, against an estimated $1.6 billion worldwide in 2005."

New Potential Crohn's Disease Treatment

This is something that I brought up during a snowball discussion a while ago, but I never posted the actual article, so here it is.

Previously, it was thought that Crohn's Disease was cause by an exaggerated immune response to the natural bacterial flora of the colon. This explained the excessive and prolonged inflammation that is the main symptom of Crohn's. However, when testing an excised section of colon from someone with Crohn's, researchers found that the tissue actually had less immune response (measured by increased blood flow to the tissue) than normal healthy tissue. The root of this turned to be inadequate production of neutrophils and interleukin (a cytokine). They found that by administering sildenafil (Viagra) to the patient corrected the blood flow issues back to normal levels. The researchers have come up with a new Crohn's theory to explain these results. They think that Crohn's sufferers actually have a suppressed immune response in the colon which allows bacteria to penetrate the intestinal wall more easily. This constant aggrivation then triggers a secondary inflammatory response that builds up in the colon causing the persitant inflammation.

The full journal can be found here.

Defective acute inflammation in Crohn's disease: a clinical investigation

A Possible New Way to Diagnose AD

Since we had a student lecture on AD I thought this was kind of cool how they are developing better methods to diagnose the problems since for most of the neurological disorders definitive diagnosis was hard to come by if it was even able to be done.

In this article it discusses that there is a possible new radiopharmaceutical that binds to the AD amyloid plaques. It even discuses that it maybe able to track the progression of the disease over time. There are several subject ranges form 44 to 80 years in age. The article is very well written as a formal lab write up that can be useful to us all in the future and had some interesting results. There were only two cases of minor side effects in patients but are thought to be cause by other issue. It also discusses how this method could also be a more cost effective way in the future. This article also includes many good images from the testing that help understand their results.


I believe we were discussing this in class, some while ago. I ran across an article which claims a link between hiccups and cancer! I'm amazed how literally everything now-a-days leads to cancer. Professor Tom Walsh, from Dublin, conducted some studies and found that hiccups in cancer patients could be linked to the phrenic nerve, the motor nerve of the diaphragm.

The Article

A little background on hiccups:
Hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the opening between your vocal cords snaps shut to check the inflow of air and makes the hiccup sound. Irritation of the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest can cause hiccups. Hiccups are not serious and have no clear reason for occurring. The few causes of hiccups:
Eating too fast, or swallowing air with you food
Eating too much, or drinking too much (fluids such as alcohol, drunk people hiccup)
Hiccups are sometimes thought off as a mechanism that is preventing a person from choking, because the stomach sits on top of the diaphragm.

You should see a doctor if hiccup persists for 3 hours.... or if you blood is coming out of your mouth.

Some home remedies:
Hold your breath.
Drink a glass of water quickly.
Become frightened.
Use smelling salts.
Pull hard on your tongue.
Place one-half teaspoon of dry sugar on the back of your tongue. (You can repeat this process 3 times at 2-minute intervals. Use corn syrup, not sugar, in young children.)
Even breathing in a bag has been suggested.

I just found this to be interesting, and wanted to post on it.
I hope you enjoyed it. Now you know what to do when you hiccup, and if you hiccup too much, you might have cancer!

-Sumedh Mankar

Brain Scans That Spy on the Senses

I know we don’t talk a lot about nuclear medicine I thought I would post one or two for us Rad Health’s out there.

With the use of PET scan (positron emission tomography) and the use of radioactive water, scientists are now starting to image the brain as it actually functions. When something like head phones we put on or pictures shown. The area of the brain that was being used had increase blood and radioactive water flow and showed up on the images. There is also much excitement with a new MRI method called an fMRI or functional MRI and requires no use of radiation for a higher resolution image. From this information it was even able to be seen the response of different fingers being touched. There is said to be much promise in this new technology.

New Method Joins Human Cells with Plastic

Another quick post because this was too interesting to pass up (and just in case one of my other posts wasn't good enough ;) )

Biomedical engineers at the University of Texas at Arlington (WHOOP!) have recently discovered a protein that allows human cells to attach to a synthetic polymer. The T59 protein was found to be able to attach human cells to the polymer polypyrrole. The discovery was made by observing bacteriophages, all of which expressed a different protein surface coating, in a lab dish made of the polymer mentioned above. Further study of the ones that were able to stick to the dish led to the discovery of the protein. This finding has significance in the study of tissue engineering, drug delivery, and biomedical sensors.

Thomas Dietzman

Getting Knee Injury Tears To Heal Themselves

Again, the subject of this blog pertains to something we studied last semester but it's interesting and I have particular interest in it.

Tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a knee injury that affects over 100,000 Americans each year (it even happened to me.) It's been seen that most other ligaments in the body except the ACL are able to heal themselves. The reason why this fact was not also true for the ACL peaked Dr. Martha Murray's interest. She found that all ligaments, including the ACL, attempt to repair themselves. In most cases, a blood clot forms which, in effect, bridges the gap and allows cells to replicate and reattach the two ends of the ligament. However, even though cells in the ACL try to repair itself it doesn't work. Dr. Murray discovered that the fluid inside the knee dissolves these bridge forming clots which causes the ligament not to be able to heal on its own. This theory is supported by the fact that the MCL, another ligament in the knee that sits outside the fluid, is able to repair itself. Therefore, Murray decided that by introducing a bridge, the ACL could repair itslef. A collagen hydrogel infused with platelet-rich plasma is used for the task. Initial testing has yielded promising results, but further testing is necessary. If successful, Dr. Murray plans on furthering this research to meniscus and rotator cuff tears. As, well if this procedure is found to be succesful enough, current invasive procedure of tendon grafting will no longer be needed.

Thomas Dietzman

Here's the link to the previous post:

Saturday, May 06, 2006

New Device For Mitral Valve Disease

After realizing that I am very interested in the cardiovascular system (thanks Dr. Wasser for the thought provoking what's your favorite system question on the last test), I decided to blog on something we actually studied at the beginning of the semester. So here it goes.

In studying the cardiovascular system, we found out that the heart valves are very important in regulating blood flow into and out of the heart as well as within the heart. Therefore, a leaky mitral valve is something to be concerned about. The general practice for repairing mitral valve leaks is open heart surgery. This procedure is very invasive, causes great pain, and has a long recovery time. Therefore, alternatives such as the MitraClip are being studied. Doctors from the University of Virginia Health System are hoping that this device and its minimally invasive implantation will be able to make the trauma of open heart surgery for this problem obsolete.
The MitraClip is housed inside a catheter that is inserted into a leg vein. The catheter is then maneuvered up to the heart and to the leaky mitral valve. Using the catheter, the surgeon then implants the device which holds the leak shut. The surgery is done on an outpatient basis proving its minimally invasive nature. So far, no patients that have undergone the new treatment have had any major life-threatening complications.

Thomas Dietzman

Stomach Receptor for H. Pylori Discovered

For about a month now, we have been studying the gastrointestinal tract exclusively – its normal function and some of the diseases associated with it. Earlier today, this article was posted on Scientific Daily – and discusses a new finding that will hopefully pave the way to battling stomach ulcers.

Helicobacter Pylori is a spiral shaped bacterium that lives in the stomach and duodenum of the human body – having a notably unique way to adapt to the harsh environment of the stomach (this bacteria was presented in student lecture). Being across the stomach lining from the normal immune response, the body really has no real effective way of combating it. It is transmitted orally and believed to be in about 80-90 percent of the population of the underdeveloped world asymptomatically.
Just recently, scientists have found that the protein decay-accelerating factor (DAF) acts as a receptor for the aforementioned bacteria to the epithelial cells of the stomach. When H. Pylori binds to the inner lining of the stomach, an immune response occurs and the morphology and behavior of the epithelial cells are altered. This can, therefore, increase acid production of the parietal cells and – if allowed to continue – can result in peptic ulcer disease. This important finding opens up an entire branch of drug research that can be explored. Instead of simply blocking the protein pumps or the histamine receptors, a drug could theoretically be manufactured to prevent the interaction between DAF and H. Pylori. If this were somehow blocked, the risk of peptic ulcer disease could be decreased by a new set of these more specific and efficient drugs.

The Plicator is Here!

A relatively new procedure is available for people suffering from gastroesophagal reflux disease (GERD). Like the traditional fundoplication, where the fudus of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophagus in order to thicken the amount of tissue in the area and help sinch off the lower esophageal sphincter, this new type of plication helps reduce the causes and symptoms of GERD. What makes this procedure so facinating is that it can be performed with only mild anestesia, and requires no incisions or hospital stay. Heck, the patient can even go to work the next day if he wants to.
The instrument used to perform this new procedure is called the Plicator. The Plicator is slipped down the esophagus and into the stomach. There the Plicator grips a small amount of tissue and crimps it together, forming a plication around the LES, and then a suture is deployed to hold the plication in place, and that's all.
Although this procedure is relatively new, it seems to be very promising.
For visual aides on how the Plicator works and a description of the procedure, visit the following link: The Plicator

Chris Klein 501

Friday, May 05, 2006

This article mentions some really neat facts about acid reflux disease that we do not usually learn through television commercials of medications. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is very common in the U.S. and eventhough everyone knows what it is, no one takes precautions to avoid getting it. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is chronic and it is usually life-long. Generally, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a when acid from the stomach or even sometimes bile from the duodenum regurgitates into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can be serious especially when the cells lining the esophagus are damaged from the acid regurtitaion. This article reviews over all the symptoms and necessary precautions that you could take to avoid it like eating a well balanced diet and exercising are some common ways to avoid reflux disease.

Liver Cancer

The article reviews about all kinds of liver cancers such as hepatocellular adenoma which is a benign tumor that occurs in women of childbearing mostly. Hemangioma is a type of benign tumor composed of abnormal blood vessels. Infants with hemangioma can have heart failure. Hepatoma is a primary liver cancer. Many patients with hepatitis B and C are in risk for this cancer. Common symptoms of a liver hepatoma are jaundice which is the yellowing of the skin and eyes, vomitting, and fever. Most liver cancer is diagnosed through tests such as liver function tests which is a blood test determining for anything impure or not functional in the liver. Abdominal ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the organs. Hepatic arteriography is a technique in which material is injected in the body and x-rays are taken to follow the funtion of the liver. This article mentions many ways to diagnose cancer in the liver and different types of cancer of the liver. I found this article of great personal interest since I have an uncle with hepatitis C and when I see him he has yellow skin. After reading this article, I know now that it is jaundice.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Oral Anticoagulants Show Promise

We all have learned that the coagulation cascade starts with the activation of thrombin to prothrombin. This, in turn, converts fibrinogen into fibrin and allows for clots to form. Xa factor activation amplifies blood clot generation. The use of Xa factor inhibitors is a promising method for anticoagulation. Fondaparinux is a legal Xa factor inhibitor in the US, but it requires injection. Two new drugs, BAY 59-7939 and LY517717, are currently being tested. The BAY drug has been found to lower the rate of thrombosis. Doctors are looking forward to replacing the current oral anticoagulant, wafarin. LY517717 was also found to be as safe as enoxaparin, the current post-operative throboembolism drug.

64 slice CT...How high will they go!

The remarkable 64-slice computed tomography(CT) technology is a recent, non-invasive method for angiography. The CT can help doctors detect conditions such as artery stenosis and atherosclerosis. Studies show that the CT is successful in predicting severe blockage, and that CT pateints have a shorter duration of stay and lower health care costs. However, this new CT is thought to porduce low levels of ionizing radiation. The National Research Council predicts that approximately 1 in 100 CT pateints will develop leukemia. That's one too many. Another troubling aspect of the CT is the high cost of each test:$700-$1000. The writer of the article jokes that by the time doctors determine if the 64 slice CT will be cost effective, the 256-slice will be on the scene.

A Little About Pancreatic Cancer...

After having a close realtive pass away from pancreatic cancer, I became very interested in certain causes and treatments of the disease. Though no one knows exactly what causes it, there are several similarities between patients, such as age ( over 50 usually), sex ( usually men) , smokers, and previous stomach problems.

This type of cancer is often more "silent" than others, because it very very dificult to diagnose as sufferers often have symptoms such as sore back and weakness of the body. Also, by the time you actually have these symptoms, the cancer has probably already spread all over the body(usually lymph nodes). Thus, many times doctors give patients very small chances of survival, and it is not uncommon for the patients to only live a few months after diagnosis.

The only real treatment that has proven to be successful is removal of the tumor. This only helos however, if the cancer has not yet spread. If it has spread, only palliative treatment can be administered to help the patient's quality of life.

Sufferers are often advised to try and take part in a clinical trial as research is the only way a future cure may be someday found.

For more info, check out the following link:


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


A nephrectomy is the removal of a kidney. The question of whether the adrenal gland is left or removed with the kidney arose is class. The amount of kidney removed from the body ranges based of the seriousness of the affliction. This can be a partial removal of a diseased portion of the kidney, or a removal of much more. A radical operation removes the entire kidney, the ureter, the adrenal gland in question, as well as the fatty tissue that surrounds the kidney. In the case of a removal of a healthy kidney for transplant, the kidney and a section of the ureter.

The adrenal gland is only removed in cases with specific, usually grave, pathologies.

The information I read for this post can be found at the following website:

Pop A Pill to Lighten Up The Darkest Moment of Your Life

Patients with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) disorder are very emotional when remembering a traumatic experience. Dr. Alan Brunet has been prescribing his patients propanolol, usually used as a hypertension drug, to lower the emotional stress when recalling the event.

Traumatic memories are first stored in the hippocampus and end by being stored in the long term memory. When a patient recalls the event it is restored in the hippocampus, where the release of hormone stress is triggered. As a result, the patient experiences the same traumatic emotions again. This pill blocks the stress hormone and enables the patient to cope with the memory. Dr. Brunet hopes that the pill will also enable the patient to modify their memory, so that it will not cause any panic when the patient recalls the memory.

White Americans at Higher Risk for Disease than English

This article from The Journal of the American Medical Association is about a study of how health varies between older individuals of England and the United States. The study analyzed data collected in the US and UK on people aged 55 to 64 years. It showed that overall white Americans were less healthy than their English counterparts even though Americans spend on average twice as much on healthcare as those in the UK. The study pointed out that Americans had a higher incidence of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other common diseases in this age group. Socioeconomic status, education, and other behaviors could not be directly linked to the differences between the US and UK.

Nanotechnology for New Organs

As I was looking around on the web for something about the GI tract, I ran across this article that was published in the Scientific American a couple years ago. Having just completed the device design project and the kidney/liver being major focuses of study this semester, I decided to read into it.

This article discusses exciting new techniques being used in tissue engineering. For some time now, skilled researchers have been able to grow skin and other membranous tissues in the lab with much success. However, trying to physically create a normal, functioning internal organ (like a kidney) outside of the body has had many obstacles that haven’t allowed for much progress. Apparently, the sheer size of these organs have created problems with supplying the growing tissue with adequate nutrients for normal metabolic needs. Therefore, in order to be able to grow these organs on the typical tissue scaffolding, there must be some kind of vascular support to the tissues. A novel technique has been proposed by researchers from MIT and Harvard to create a microscopic device to deliver nutrients to the tissue. Nano-scale networks in silicone sheets act as scaffolding in which some kind of microporous membrane takes form (much like the materials that the ICMO teams worked with). These networks have been combined with the normal tissue engineering processes and much success has followed. In fact, these artificially created livers have successfully worked in rats for an entire week – and that’s just for starters. These positive results have implications that could more directly focus this field of research for the decades to come and solve the organ shortage with an exclamation point.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Targeted Virus Compels Cancer Cells to Eat Themselves

An engineered virus that causes tumor cells to devour themselves was targeted. Cancer cells are unable to carry out apoptosis, and this virus enables cell death through autophagy. In autophagy the cells only consume certain organelles, whereas in apoptosis there is damage to the cell nucleus and DNA. The HTERT-Ad virus can only replicate with the enzyme telomerase, which is contained by cancer cells. Since only cancer cells contain this enzyme normal cells are unaffected.

The study was performed in mice with malignant gliomas in the brain. In rats injected with the virus the tumor average size was 39 cubic millimeters versus 200 cubic millimeters in rats that received a non replicating virus. In addition, rats injected with the virus lived for 50 days, while the others lived only 29 days.

New Antibiotic

Scientists have recently discovered a molecule in wallaby milk that kills many types of bacteria and fungi. The molecule, AGG01, is 100 times more effective than penicillin in killing bacteria such as E coli. With many strains of bacteria becoming resistant to current antibiotics, finding new drugs like this will have ever increasing importance.
The molecule is extracted from wallaby milk. Baby wallabies are born without a developed immune system, so the mother's milk must provide biomolecules that are anti-microbial.

A similar mechanism takes place in humans when babies breastfeed. The baby literally ingests some of the mother's immunity. That is one reason doctors recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies if at all possible.

Women Hormones in Water Changing Sex of Fish

Female hormones (oestrogens) found in birth controll pills has a percentage that is unused by the body and ends up in the sewage water.

In British rivers, oestrogenic chemicals from female hormones are changing the sex of fish and an increase in hermaphrodism (both sexes) in fish. Also, there is a chemical nonylphenol that has an oestrogenic effect of making male fish turn to females. This chemical has the same effect on humans, and in respect to this also there has been a fall in the sperm count in men, which is dropping by as much as 2% each year.

Watch out Boys!

Dolphins Curing Cancer

Recently researchers have been studying the effects of dolphins on cancer patients. In the past, it was just thought that the dolphins made the patient feel better, but new research shows much different.

They have found that interacting with the dolphins causes the patient's domain brain frequency to drop. In the tests hemispheric synchronization, in which the brain waves emitted from both the left and right hemispheres of the brain are in phase and of similar frequency, was happening in the patients, and this phenomena is a very uncommon neurological state. The induced alpha brain state can be responsible for making the immune system stronger, and this was higher in patients after interaction with the dolphins. Part of cancer therapy and curing is in part making the patient feel better, but this shows that this is not the only thing going on.

Studies performed by the Florida Back Institute have focused on the endocrinology of human-dolphin contact. They found that the dolphins way of communication and location, using sonar, caused sono-chemical changes that happen at the cellular boundaries in living tissue. They also found that the neurotransmitter production or uptake cycle is dramatically affected by dolphin contact, in turn affecting the endocrine system.

This is turn is making huge changes for cancer patients.

Hormone Replacement Therapy Good?

Recent research proposes that estrogen is neither good or bad in terms of physiological effects. In the past, estrogen produced favorable effects on plasma lipid profiles, increased fibrinolysis, and acted as a vasodilator to lower systemic blood pressure and increase organ blood flow. An important action of estrogen is to stimulate NO synthse (NOS) activity. It is the disposition of nitric oxide(either coupled or uncoupled) that will then determine which product predominates and therefore , whether the overall effect of estrogen will be beneficial or harmful. As a woman ages there is a decline in factors critical for maintaining NOS in the 'coupled' state. Uncoupled oxidation generates Oc rather than NO. O2 has been suggested to play a role in age-related increased corocary vascular resitance and mediates the contractile response of estrogen on vessels.

Researchers used consisted of in vitro cell cultures, western blot analysis, and flourescence studies. The experiments indicate that estrogen can either relax or contract the arterial system depending on whether NOS activity is coupled or uncoupled to NO production, with either NO orO2, respectively, exerting the predominate influence. Yet, in aging women, NOS activity is ucoupled, resulting in a contractile response to the estrogen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bad News Fellas

This post is mainly for the males because it pertains to erectile dysfunction among the college population. So apparently, erectile dysfunction does not primarily occur when men are old or even middle-aged. It can also occur at a young age and is caused by a few factors which are very pertinent to college aged individuals. As the article explains, through their survey, the researchers were able to determine that erectile dysfunction is partly associated with consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Depression and anxiety are also factors that associated with erectile dysfunction among this age group. It was also determined through their sample population that about 1 in 4 young males have a sexual problem. Another interesting thing that the article mentioned is that taking ED medication does not do much good to increase performance if you are already at your maximum erectile potential. Although this excess of drug use and other problems may or may not pertain to anyone in our class, it is interesting to see how a “college lifestyle” can affect sexual performance at such a young age.

Mermaid syndrome

Milagros Cerron celerbated her second birthday in Peru on April 27th. Milagros was diagnosed with sirenomelia, often referred to as "mermaid syndrome," at birth and underwent an operation last June to separate her legs, which were fused to the ankles. For most, the syndrome is fatal, but Milgaros seems to be developing very well, considering her condition. An additional surgery is scheduled for late May to separate the remaining attached portions of her legs. Many additional surgeries are needed to continue her development and aid rehabilitation. A link to this article can be found here. Also, her name means "miracles" in Spanish. :)

Bioengineers at Work

Detecting tumors using nanoparticles
MIT engineers are to devise a new technique to help physicians detect cancerous cells at an early stage. This technique involves the use of Iron oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are injected into the body, where they flow through the bloodstream and enter tumors. By a special mechanism these nanoparticles can be triggered to "self-assemble" and form a magnetic signal strong enough for a MRI to detect.

More about this is given in this link

Cancer Drugs treat HGPS?

Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a genetic condition is known to cause what looks like premature aging. Stephen Young from UCLA reports that a drug developed to treat cancer can delay symptoms and increase the survival of mice with a similar disease. In HGPS, mutation occurs in the gene encoding precursor of lamin A. This provides the membrane of the nucleus its structure. Another enzyme called ZMPSTE24 cleaves the protein to produce mature lamin A. When the cleavage site is altered, it leads to buildup and mutation of prelamin A. Research on farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs), which help treat cancer, was tested on mice to restore nuclei back to their normal shape which looks like a promising research!

Lymphadenectomy in Stomach Cancer Patients

A study in Taiwan reports that massive removal of the lymph nodes, or a lymphadenectomy, within the stomach greatly increase survival rates in stomach cancer patients. They issued a disclaimer saying it would have to be performed by an highly experienced doctor in order for it to have an effect. The study was made over a five year period including over 200 patients. The survival rate however only increased from 53% to about 57%. This is obviously not a substantial increase, especially when considering the extreme localization of the study.