Breakthrough Molecular 3D Printer Can Print Billions of Possible Compounds


What will 3D printers ultimately evolve into? No one has a functioning crystal ball in front of them I assume, but a good guess would be a machine which can practically build anything its user desire, all on the molecular, and eventually atomic levels. Sure we are likely multiple decades away from widespread molecular manufacturing, but a group of chemists led by medical doctorMartin D. Burke at the University of Illinois may have already taken a major step in that direction.

Burke, who joined the Department of Chemistry at the university in 2005, heads up Burke Laboratories where he studies and synthesizes small molecules with protein-like structures. For those of you who are not chemists, small molecules are organic compounds with very low molecular weight of less than 900 daltons. They usually help regulate biological processes and make up most of the drugs we put into our bodies, along with pesticides used by farmers and electronic components like LEDs and solar cells.

Martin Burke and his team

Martin Burke and his team

Burke and his team have created a machine which could be described as a major breakthrough in the field of chemistry, a ‘molecule-making machine’. Sound futuristic? Well that’s because it is. The machine, which was described in a paper featured in today’s issue of Science, could best be described as a 3D printer for chemicals.

“We wanted to take a very complex process, chemical synthesis, and make it simple,” explained Burke. “Simplicity enables automation, which, in turn, can broadly enable discovery and bring the substantial power of making molecules to nonspecialists.”

The way the machine works is quite extraordinary. It is able to break down very complex molecules into their basic chemical building blocks. To put things b5into perspective, imagine each chemical building block as a different LEGO brick. They all share the same connectors, but may be totally different from one another. The machine is able to use a catch-and-release method to automate the process of connecting these building blocks together, one brick at a time, while releasing the byproducts of each chemical reaction. It was this technique of releasing the unwanted byproducts which made this breakthrough a reality. Using this process the machine can utilize over 200 different building blocks along with thousands of other molecules to ‘print’ billions of different organic compounds, many of which make up 14 classes of small molecules, including the ratanhine molecule family.  Also, according to Burke, it can even synthesize chemicals which were never before created by human beings.

“The vision for the future is that anyone who needs a specific small molecule can essentially print it out from their computer,” explained Burke. “We are really excited about the immediate impacts that this will have on drug discovery.”

A new company, co-founded by Burke, called REVOLUTION Medicines, Inc.has already licensed the technology and is investing heavily in developing next generation molecule-making machines which will be much more powerful and easier to scale. If things go as planned, these machines have the potential to do to chemistry what 3D printing has done to engineering; making it fast, less complicated and accessible to pretty much anyone.  In fact, the company already is working to improve upon an anti-fungal compound known as Amphotericin B, which is found in nature and used to treat patients with life-threatening fungal infections.

“Perhaps most exciting, this work has opened up an actionable road map to a general and automated way to make most small molecules,” stated Burke. “If that goal can be realized, it will help shift the bottleneck from synthesis to function and bring the power of making small molecules to nonspecialists….A 3D printer for molecules could allow us to harness all the creativity, innovation, and outside-the-box thinking that comes when non-experts start to use technology that used to only be in the hands of a select few.”

The potential this new machine could have for new rapid drug discovery as well as new chemically spawned technologies could be staggering. Imagine a website like Thingiverse, where instead of open sourcing 3D design files for printing, you could open source medications and other chemicals.  That’s where the future may be headed!

Let’s hear your thoughts on the possible implications of this new machine. Discuss in the 3D Molecule Printing Machine forumthread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below where Martin Burke further explains the process and how his machine works.

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Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/y_0wC5kDN3s

Nature’s Anti-Aging Secret


Ecologists are finding animals and plants that defy aging.

forever-young

A dozen years ago, Daniel Doak began crawling around the Alaskan tundra carrying a container of colorful party toothpicks. He was there on the chilly North Slope at the top of the continent to study moss campion, a low, flat plant that explodes with pink flowers in early summer.

Moss campion seedlings are “the size of the head of a pushpin,” Doak says, and 20 years can pass before they grow much bigger. Nonetheless, Doak, an ecologist at the University of Colorado, dutifully identified, mapped and measured the plants, using the toothpicks to mark the location of the smallest ones.

moss-campion

Moss campion in bloom.

Every summer he returns, and after all those years of strained eyes and bruised knees, he now has data on 2,500 plants in the Arctic and thousands more at sites across the globe, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pyrenees. (Moss campion grows across a wide swath of the world’s high latitudes and elevations.) That information led Doak and his collaborator, Duke University ecologist William Morris, to a surprising find: The plants live for centuries. And that insight is helping to shape an emerging field: the science of how nature ages.

Initially, Doak simply wanted to understand how organisms respond to harsh environmental conditions, such as the frigid temperatures of an Alaskan winter. “How does a species make a living,” he wondered, “in a place where it’s tough to get established and tough to live?” So Doak and Morris recorded basic demographic data, measuring things like how fast the plants grow — and how long they live. “We do the equivalent of what the Census Bureau does,” says Doak. “We ask, ‘Are you alive? How big are you? How many children do you have?’ ”

By tracking the plants year after year, Doak has shown that moss campion follows a biological strategy known as negative senescence. Senescence is the scientific term for what we commonly think of as aging. All aging really signifies is time lived. To us, there’s no separating the passage of time from the process of decline. We see it in ourselves: gray hair, bad knees, flagging energy. But in negative senescence, the risk of death decreases as an organism grows older.

For years, biologists believed this strategy was largely impossible. Everything that survives for long enough, they thought, will eventually enter a deteriorating slide toward death. A combination of long-term data sets and new computational tools is painting a different picture: plants and animals that stay healthy, and even reproduce, for far longer than anyone would have predicted. Death may still be their ultimate fate, but it doesn’t represent the end point of decline. It arrives via catastrophe, or a whim of nature, or as a result of human-caused changes to the environment.

Doak and other scientists examining how various species age have discovered that in some cases, they simply don’t. Evolution may sometimes favor organisms that follow a different path. “Clearly there are ways for natural selection to dramatically change how senescence happens,” Doak says. “It doesn’t seem that hard to defeat senescence.”

Questions of Life and Death

Doak’s conclusion would have seemed heretical just a few years ago.

Why living things age is one of biology’s most vexing questions. For the past several decades, biologists have clung to a trio of theories, all of which hold that senescence is inescapable. One theory holds that organisms age because of built-up genetic mutations that aren’t weeded out by natural selection — a disease, say, that hits after your reproductive prime. Another maintains that aging occurs because some traits that make you better at reproducing may also cue your demise. And according to a third theory, as organisms age they deteriorate and must spend more energy to repair cell damage — to the detriment of other essential physical functions.

toothpicks

Toothpicks mark the smallest seedlings.

For years scientists have quibbled over which theory proved the best, but few doubted that, among the three, they explained the evolution of aging.

Now a new branch of the science of aging has sprouted, from a part of the world that, oddly, was excluded before: nature. And its early results suggest that those long-standing theories only tell part of the story. Until as recently as a decade ago, the mostly lab-based scientists who studied aging assumed that senescence wasn’t visible in nature. You wouldn’t see it in the wild, they believed, because the cruel realities of nature simply don’t allow anything to live long enough to decline. But years of data from long-term studies by Doak and other scientists examining plants, birds, mammals and fungi in the field are showing the flaws in these assumptions.

“There’s dogma in the literature — which is more oriented toward the cell biology of aging — that wild animals don’t actually senesce,” says Daniel Nussey, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Edinburgh who studies aging in Soay sheep on a remote Scottish island. “That is absolutely wrong. This process can be seen, and it is shaped by evolution.”

In fact, signs of nature aging are all around us. Nussey’s wild sheep shed several pounds the year before they die; alpine ibex older than 8 or 9 can’t tolerate harsh weather; some plants lose their ability to survive drought. Elderly albatross seek out food in different areas than they did in their youth. Why organisms age differently — the comparative biology of aging — is a growing fascination for scientists. “We’re trying to understand what it is that drives variation in this process,” Nussey says.

That variation, it turns out, includes species that simply don’t follow the established rules. Back in 2004, a team of scientists looked at the emerging evidence from ecology and proposed that aging isn’t inevitable at all. In a controversial paper published in the journal Theoretical Population Biology, they wrote that “some, and perhaps many, species show negative senescence” — a situation in which death rates actually fall as the years pass.

bristlecone-pines

Bristlecone pines, like this one in California’s White Mountains, can live for thousands of years.

Live Slow, Die Old

Since then, evidence of negative senescence has been stacking up.

In the case of moss campion, the plant has evolved a strategy of slow, deliberate growth. Doak believes it spends much of its early energy building an extremely long tap root that helps ensure water and nutrients later on, but slows the plant’s above-ground growth in the meantime. In the moss campion’s tundra home, “it’s very hard to get established,” says Doak. But once it is, its chances of surviving and eventually reproducing are high. There’s not much that will kill moss campion. The plant is so flat and low to the ground, and its leaves so tiny (less than half an inch long), that caribou and Dall sheep have a hard time eating it.

To Doak, it makes sense that natural selection would, in this case, act against aging. “Random catastrophes aren’t going to kill you, and it’s worth your while to put your investment in yourself rather than just in putting out offspring,” he says. Rather than “live fast, die young,” the campion strategy is more “live slow, die old.” Really, really old.

With some organisms, really old can mean millennia. High in the White Mountains near the California-Nevada border live some of the oldest trees in the world. Their trunks thick and gnarled, their oldest needles, born when JFK was president, still hanging on, these bristlecone pines are nearly 5,000 years old. Living five millennia is quite a feat, but what’s even more surprising is that these trees show no sign of decline. They are more likely to survive environmental stress than their younger cohorts, and they continue to reproduce at a steady rate. Their measured growth allows them to build extra-durable wood that resists rot, drought and lightning. In other words, in this case, natural selection appears to favor avoiding senescence entirely.

But plants are hardly the only organisms defying the aging process. Studies of turtles and lizards have also turned up negative senescence. One long-term study of three-toed box turtles in Missouri found that the animals were still reproducing well into their 70s.

In the mammal world, naked mole rats are the longest-living rodents. They can reach nearly 30 years of age in captivity. Scientists have found that breeding females “show no decline in fertility even well into their third decade of life,” according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B. That makes sense, says Doak: “They live underground, in a resource-poor environment. They live cooperatively, meaning that your only chance to reproduce is after you’ve lived for a while and moved up the social strata.” Natural selection in this scenario favors individuals that live longer.

A New Threat

Doak’s moss campion research has lately turned up more than just evidence for negative senescence. He’s also found signs that global warming may be exerting a tangible influence on death’s odds. Close monitoring of the Alaskan moss campion plants over the years reveals that what’s most likely to kill the plants today is climate. “In winters when it’s quite cold but there are warm periods, the plants lose the blanket of snow that covers them,” Doak explains. They come down with the equivalent of freezer burn; ultimately, they die from being freeze-dried. “We’ve been seeing more and more of that over the course of our study,” he says.

While global warming represents a hurdle for the plants, Doak himself faces a more existential challenge. “It’s very difficult,” he admits, “to show that senescence doesn’t ever occur.” To prove conclusively that something doesn’t age would itself require human immortality. And, unfortunately, negative senescence in humans remains elusive.

A jab in time


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Some Western countries have lower vaccination rates than poor parts of Africa. Anti-vaxxers are not the main culprits

ERADICATING a disease is the sort of aim that rich countries come up with, and poor ones struggle to reach. But for some diseases, the pattern is reversed. These are the ailments for which vaccinations exist. Many poor countries run highly effective vaccination programmes. But as memories of the toll from infectious diseases fades across the rich world, in some places they are making a comeback.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reckons that vaccines save 2.5m lives a year. Smallpox was eradicated in 1980 with the help of a vaccine; polio should soon follow. In both cases, rich countries led the way. The new pattern looks very different.

contagious. At least 95% of people must be vaccinated to stop its spread (a threshold known as “herd immunity”). Although usually mild, it can lead to pneumonia and cause brain damage or blindness. The countries with the lowest vaccination rates are all very poor, but many developing countries run excellent programmes (see chart). Eritrea, Rwanda and Sri Lanka manage to vaccinate nearly everyone. By contrast several rich countries, including America, Britain, France and Italy, are below herd immunity.

Last year Europe missed the deadline it had set itself in 2010 to eradicate measles, and had almost 4,000 cases. America was declared measles-free in 2000; in 2014 it had hundreds of cases across 27 states and last year saw its first death from the disease in more than a decade. The trends for other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, which can cause congenital disabilities if a pregnant woman catches it, are alarming, too.

This sorry state of affairs is often blamed on hardline “anti-vaxxers”, parents who refuse all vaccines for their children. They are a motley lot. The Amish in America spurn modern medicine, along with almost everything else invented since the 17th century. Some vegans object to the use of animal-derived products in vaccines’ manufacture. The Protestant Dutch Reformed Church thinks vaccines thwart divine will. Anthroposophy, founded in the 19th century by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian mystic-cum-philosopher, preaches that diseases strengthen children’s physical and mental development.

In most countries such refuseniks are only 2-3% of parents. But because they tend to live in clusters, they can be the source of outbreaks. A bigger problem, though, is the growing number of parents who delay vaccination, or pick and choose jabs. Studies from America, Australia and Europe suggest that about a quarter of parents fall into this group, generally because they think that the standard vaccination schedule, which protects against around a dozen diseases, “overloads” children’s immune systems, or that particular vaccines are unsafe. Some believe vaccines interfere with “natural immunity”. Many were shaken by a claim, later debunked, that there was a link between autism and the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

In America, some poor children miss out on vaccines despite a federal programme to provide the jabs free, since they have no regular relationship with a family doctor. Some outbreaks in eastern Europe have started in communities of Roma (gypsies). Members of this poor and ostracised minority are shunned by health workers and often go unvaccinated.

Several governments are trying to raise vaccination rates by making life harder for parents who do not vaccinate their children. A measles outbreak last year that started with an unvaccinated child visiting Disneyland and spread from there to seven states prompted California to make a full vaccination record a condition of entry to state schools. The previous year, in a quarter of schools too few children had been vaccinated against measles to confer herd immunity. A dozen other states are considering similar bills. After a toddler died from measles last year, Germany recently started to oblige parents who do not wish their children to be vaccinated to discuss the decision with a doctor before they can enroll a child in nursery. Australia’s new “no jabs, no pay” law withdraws child benefits from parents who do not vaccinate, unless they have sound medical reasons.

Persuasion, a fine art

There is, however, surprisingly little evidence that tough laws make a big difference to vaccination rates. European countries that are similar in most respects (such as the Nordics) may have similar rates for jabs that are mandatory in one country but not in another—or very different rates despite having the same rules. Rates in some American states where parents can easily opt out are as high as in West Virginia and Mississippi, which have long allowed only medical exemptions.

And strict rules may even harden anti-vaccination attitudes. Australia had previously made exemption conditional on speaking to a doctor or nurse about the benefits of vaccines. The new rules mean fewer chances to change parents’ minds. Research suggests that making it harder to avoid the most important vaccines may make it more likely that people who strongly oppose vaccination in general shun optional ones, says Cornelia Betsch of the University of Erfurt.

More important, say public-health experts, is to boost confidence in the safety of vaccines and trust in the authorities that recommend them—both badly damaged in many European countries by pastpublic-health mis-steps, such as a scandal with contaminated blood supply in France from the late 1990s. The best way to handle a vaccine scare is to express empathy and promptly share the results from investigations of alleged adverse reactions, says Heidi Larson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. British authorities’ dismissive response to the MMR scare failed to reassure worried parents.

One promising new approach is to keep track of the vaccine myths circulating in cyberspace and rebut each one as it appears. This requires tracking information from search engines and following anti-vaccination websites and parents’ forums. On one such forum, worriers say they have scoured government and vaccine-manufacturer websites but feel overwhelmed by information that they regard as inconclusive or contradictory. One mother seeks advice on how to get around California’s “fascist” new rule. Another casts doubt on a study on severe allergic reactions to vaccines: 33 cases from 25m jabs, she says, seems “fishily low”.

Some countries are starting information campaigns that treat such concerns with respect. A parents’ organisation in Bulgaria launched one recently, under the auspices of the ministry of health and the national association of paediatricians. Its website is jargon-free and easier to navigate than unwieldy official hubs. France is launching a national dialogue on vaccines this spring, with a website where citizens can swap gripes, worries and advice.

Although vaccine-hesitant parents often search for answers on the internet, their most trusted sources are doctors and nurses. The WHO recently developed guidelines to help health workers figure out, through a questionnaire, which type of worrier a parent is—and how to alleviate specific concerns. But recent research from several European countries shows that many doctors and nurses are also hesitant about vaccines, for much the same reasons as their patients. In a survey conducted in 2014, 16-43% of French family doctors said they never or only sometimes recommended some of the standard vaccines.

An additional problem is that many adults were not immunised as children and have not caught up since. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the measles vaccine was new, many children did not receive it, or got just one shot, which is now known not to be reliable in conferring immunity. Some countries offer free catch-up jabs to some adults when outbreaks flare up—usually parents with small children and health workers in affected areas.

But such efforts have, on the whole, been too little, too late. The return of easily preventable diseases that had all but disappeared is a shame. A bigger shame would be for governments to continue blaming it all on ignorant parents.

http://c14.zedo.com/utils/zplayer/wrapper/v3.2/app/scripts/jschannel.min.jshttp://c14.zedo.com/utils/zplayer/wrapper/v3.2/app/scripts/videoAPI.min.js

Why Take Vitamin D Supplements if They Don’t Improve Health?


One of the questions I’m asked most often at The Incidental Economist blog, on my YouTube channel, and through other means of communication is whether vitamin D supplementation is a good thing. I’m amazed at the persistence of this question, as study after study seems to show that vitamin D isn’t doing most of us much good at all.

In a recent issue of JAMA, researchers tested whether 2 years of taking supplemental vitamin D might help patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee. The main outcomes of interest involved measurements of tibial cartilage volume, pain scores, cartilage defects, and bone marrow lesions. After the study period, there were no significant improvements in any of these outcomes. There were, however, significantly more adverse events in those taking the vitamin D.

Last October, JAMA Internal Medicine published a randomized, controlled trial of vitamin D examining its effects on musculoskeletal health. Postmenopausal women were given either the supplement or placebo for one year. Measurements included total fractional calcium absorption, bone mineral density, muscle mass, fitness tests, functional status, and physical activity. On almost no measures did vitamin D make a difference.

The accompanying editor’s note observed that the data provided no support for the use of any dose of vitamin D for bone or muscle health.

Last year, also in JAMA Internal Medicine, a randomized controlled trial examined whether exercise and vitamin D supplementation might reduce falls and falls resulting in injury among elderly women. Its robust factorial design allowed for the examination of the independent and joined effectiveness of these 2 interventions. Exercise reduced the rate of injuries, but vitamin D did nothing to reduce either falls or injuries from falls.

In the same issue, a systematic review and meta-analysis looked at whether evidence supports the contention that vitamin D can improve hypertension. A total of 46 randomized, placebo controlled trials were included in the analysis. At the trial level, at the individual patient level, and even in subgroup analyses, vitamin D was ineffective in lowering blood pressure.

A recent study by US researchers and another by Danish researchers found that vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy didn’t prevent asthma in young offspring.

A Cochrane review found it unlikely that vitamin D can help treat chronic pain, although many people still try. Anotherfound that vitamin D supplementation decreases cancer occurrence in elderly people. A Lancet meta-analysis argued that “continuing widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate.”

One Cochrane review from 2012 found that vitamin D3, but not vitamin D2, alfacalcidol, or calcitriol, decreased mortality in women older than 70 years who were in institutions or under dependent care. But 150 such women had to be treated for 5 years to prevent 1 death.

Few would argue that people who are deficient in vitamins, including vitamin D, should not be supplemented. But screening turns up so few truly deficient people that the US Preventive Services Task Force does not recommendscreening widely for it. Yet millions of people take vitamin D every day.

Vitamin D supplementation is just the tip of the iceberg, though. We spent $21 billion in the United States on vitamins and herbal supplements in 2015 alone, and it’s likely that the vast majority of that is doing us no good.

That may seem like chump change in the scheme of health care spending. But it’s indicative of a larger problem in our health care system. We are willing to spend vast amounts of money on things that we have found don’t work when we study them. Whether these are surgical procedures that have been proven no better than sham surgery in controlled trials, screening that seems less and less effective, or drugs with little or no proven benefit.

The Choosing Wisely  campaign is premised on the idea that there are many, many things we do in medicine that we shouldn’t. Almost all of them cost money.

Too often, when confronted with the massive cost of health care in the United States, we throw up our hands in despair, as if there’s nothing we can do to stem the tide without negatively affecting health. That’s untrue. There’s billions of dollars in wasteful medical spending that could be cut with no negative effect on outcomes. Unfortunately, too many people think of that waste as “care.”

Ending that spending will be unpopular in the short run. Many will likely call it “rationing.” But in this election season, as politicians cast around looking for ways to reduce the cost of our health care in a way that maintains or improves quality, it’s a good place to start.

***

About the author: Aaron E. Carroll, MD, MS, is a health services researcher and the Vice Chair for Health Policy and Outcomes Research in the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. He blogs about health policy at The Incidental Economist and tweets at @aaronecarroll.

Aaron Carroll, MD, MS

About The JAMA Forum:  JAMA has assembled a team of leading scholars, including health economists, health policy experts, and legal scholars, to provide expert commentary and insight into news that involves the intersection of health policy and politics, economics, and the law. Each JAMA Forum entry expresses the opinions of the author but does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of JAMA, the editorial staff, or the American Medical Association.

Man Goes Blind In 1 Eye After Making A Mistake That Many People Make Every Day


It was a Friday afternoon in August when Groeschen said that his left eye began to itch. He thought that the itching was a result of allergies. The next morning his eye became “goopy”. By Sunday morning his vision was becoming worse, the Huffington Post reported.

Watch the video. URl:https://youtu.be/E5I0OLzD2Cc

This Vitamin Deficiency Can Cause Migraines


More than 300 million people worldwide — about 6 to 7 percent of men and 15 to 18 percent of women — suffer from migraine headaches, which can last anywhere from a few hours to three days. An estimated 20 million migraine attacks occur every single day.

Despite that, it’s still one of the least understood and poorly treated medical disorders, as they are likely due to a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors that vary from person to person.

Adding to the complexity is that the experiences of those suffering from migraines also vary greatly. Aside from throbbing, searing pain, which may or may not be one-sided, some experience “auras” prior to onset, while others do not. Other symptoms that may or may not be present include nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, sweating, and/or sensitivity to light, sound, and smells.

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of different theories about the cause of migraines, but no one hypothesis can explain the occurrence of migraines in all sufferers. These (sometimes conflicting) theories include:

Changes in your brain chemical serotonin. When levels drop, blood vessels including those in your brain become swollen and inflamed, which can lead to migraine pain.

-Vascular constriction in your brain; from initial blood vessel constriction and a drop in blood flow, followed by dilation and stretching of blood vessels, which activates pain-signaling neurons.

-Excessive increase of blood flow in your brain. In direct contrast to the preceding theory, other research has found that migraines are not preceded by constriction and decrease in blood flow, but rather by an increase of nearly 300 percent. However, circulation then appears normal, or even slightly reduced, once the attack is in full swing.

-A neurological disorder related to nerve cell activity that sweeps across your brain, causing pain. In this case, it is thought that a wave release of neurotransmitters across your cortex can directly stimulate your trigeminal nerves, setting off the chain reaction that ends in the transmitting of pain signals.

-A nervous system disorder originating in your brain stem. Your brain stem is your control center for alertness, perception of light, noise and smell, cerebral blood flow, cardiovascular function and pain sensitivity — many, if not most, of which are part of the symptoms of a migraine attack.

Research has revealed that three clusters of cells in your brain stem are active during and after migraine. According to this hypothesis, abnormal activity in those cells could induce the sensation of pain, even when there are no pain signals being received from your brain membrane or blood vessels.

-A disruption of the subtle energies circulating throughout your body, along with unresolved emotional issues that manifest in your body as headaches.

-Mutation or dysfunction of certain genes.

Are Your Migraines Due to a Vitamin Deficiency?

In this latest study, vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid supplements were found to produce a two-fold reduction in migraines over a six-month period. Previous studies, such as a 2004 study in the European Journal of Neurology, have also reported that high doses of B2 (riboflavin) can help prevent migraine attacks.

Certain gene mutations and dysfunctions can lead to higher levels of homocysteine production, which can make you more susceptible to migraine attacks. Here they found that vitamins B6 and B12 work by reducing your homocysteine levels. They also discovered that depending on your genotype, you may need a higher or lower dose in order for it to work. Said Professor Lyn Griffiths:

“… if all patients received the same vitamin dosage for the same period of time it would be expected that those with TT genotypes, having a reduced enzymatic rate, would metabolise less homocysteine over the treatment period compared to C allele carriers, thus resulting in a smaller reduction in homocysteine and consequent migraine symptoms. 

Indeed, it may be that TT genotypes although having a higher risk of disease actually require a larger dosage of vitamins to exhibit the same effect as C alleles. Further clinical trials of much larger patient cohorts are required to test this hypothesis.”

According to Professor Griffiths, their aim is to determine the optimal dosage of B vitamins based on your genetic profile.

“The success of our trial has shown that safe, inexpensive vitamin supplements can treat migraine patients,” she said.

However, there may be yet another, even more widespread, vitamin deficiency underlying your migraine symptoms.

Just last year, researchers presented results of an observational study at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society, showing that nearly 42 percent of patients with chronic migraine were deficient in vitamin D. The study also showed that the longer you suffered from chronic migraines, the more likely you are to be vitamin D deficient.

This is yet another brand new discovery that can be tacked on to the literally hundreds of health ramifications of being vitamin D deficient.

For more information on getting tested, and how to optimize your vitamin D levels, please see this previous article. I also recommend you take the time to view my free one-hour video lecture on vitamin D, in which I go over the nearly unbelievable benefits you will receive by understanding this essential nutrient.

Common Migraine Triggers to Avoid

However, it is important for everyone to fully appreciate that treating migraines by using a simple remedy is rarely effective. So while using supplements like these B vitamins might be useful, this is still an allopathic approach that is very similar to using medications.

It is my belief that pain can be one of your strongest allies if you use it to help you to find what is truly contributing to the cause of the problem.

Just as there are numerous theories on the actual mechanics of migraine pain, there are a wide number of potential triggers — and what triggers a migraine for you might not trigger it in someone else. So rather than just popping some B vitamins you will want to consider a more comprehensive strategy.

However, here are several of the most commonly reported triggers:

-Food and Drink: Many people experience migraines when they eat certain foods, especially wheat, dairy (especially pasteurized), sugar, artificial preservatives or chemical additives. Cured or processed meats, alcohol, aspartame, caffeine, and MSG are common culprits.

-Allergies: Including food allergies and food sensitivities, and chemical sensitivities.

-Dehydration and/or Hunger

-Changes in sleeping cycle: Both missing sleep and oversleeping can trigger a migraine.

-Stress: Any kind of emotional trauma can trigger a migraine, even after the stress has passed.

-Physical exertion: Extremely intense exercise or even sex has been known to bring on migraines.

-Hormones: Some women experience migraines before, or during their periods, during pregnancy, or during menopause. Others may get migraines from hormonal medications like birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy.

-External stimuli: Bright lights, fluorescent lights, loud noises and strong smells (even pleasant ones) can trigger a migraine.

-Weather changes, seasonal changes, and changes in altitude 

 

How to Relieve Migraine Pain Without Dangerous Drugs

Migraine pain can be seriously debilitating and may be one instance where you could justify popping a pill for instant relief. Unfortunately, migraine medications tend to only work in 50 percent of people, half the time…

They also have intense side effects such as “medication overuse headache,” which often occurs when people take too much of a headache drug. Worse than that, if you take tryptamine-based drugs, which bind to serotonin receptors to constrict your cranial blood vessels, but your pain is not due to engorged blood vessels, then constricting them can potentially do a lot of harm. And, lo and behold, serious cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke, are in fact side effects of these types of drugs.

Fortunately, there are better ways to treat migraines than pharmaceutical drugs.

First, you’ll want to make sure you avoid the triggers.

Most often this means eating healthy whole foods and avoiding processed ones. Avoiding wheat, grains, sugar and all fluids but water also seem to be particularly effective. In fact, following my eating plan typically reduces migraines by about 80 percent, as it virtually eliminates all common food-related causes of headaches.

Regular exercise will also help to keep migraines away by improving your response to stress, along with the underlying inflammatory conditions that can trigger migraines.

Those are the lifestyle choices that you’ll need to focus on long-term, if you want to reduce your migraines. But if a migraine does strike and you need immediate relief, here are a several safe, healthy alternatives that you can try:

1.    Use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Newcomers who use this simple process by themselves achieve relief 50 percent to 80 percent of the time and, in many cases, the relief is complete and permanent. More sophisticated uses by an EFT expert may be required for some migraine sufferers.

2.    Stimulate your body’s natural painkilling ability. By putting pressure on a nerve just under your eyebrow, you can cause your pituitary gland to release painkilling endorphins immediately.

3. Take 10 teaspoons of cayenne pepper in a glass of water. Endorphins are released by your brain when the cayenne hits your stomach lining.

4. Sniff green apple scent. One study found that the scent significantly relieved migraine pain. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy so consulting with an aromatherapist may be beneficial. Other aromas that stand out of the crowd include peppermint, sandalwood oil, lavender, and eucalyptus.

5. Hot and cold packs. For some people, heat will do the trick, while others get more relief from cold. Experiment to see which one works for you, but avoid extreme temperatures. You can also try placing your hands in hot (but not scalding) water, which seems to pull pressure from your head.

Scientists have grown a first-of-its-kind functional heart muscle from stem cells


Organ transplants are an invaluable way of saving people’s lives when their own organs fail, but organ shortages, waiting lists, and the powerful drugs required to help recipients’ bodies accept their new parts are just some of the difficulties with existing transplant processes.

But what if there were another way of replacing organs, one that was less reliant on sourcing whole, living organs from other people’s bodies? Scientists in the US have made progress towards creating bioengineered human hearts in the lab, by regenerating a functional human heart muscle. In this case, the procedure still requires using a donated organ, but one that’s fused with cells from the recipient.

 

The technique involves repopulating a decellularised organ – stripped of the original donor’s living cells – with new cardiac tissue grown from the potential recipient’s induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In effect, the donor heart is stripped of the components that would trigger an immune response from the recipient, and is replaced with the recipients’ own cardiac muscle cells.

“Regenerating a whole heart is most certainly a long-term goal that is several years away, so we are currently working on engineering a functional myocardial patch that could replace cardiac tissue damaged due [to] a heart attack or heart failure,” said researcher Jacques Guyette from the Massachusetts General Hospital Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM).

The study, documented in Circulation Research, was led by CRM surgeon Harald Ott, who previously developed a decellularisation procedure to strip living cells from rat organs with a detergent solution, before repopulating them with organ-appropriate grown cells. In the new study, this multi-stage process has been scaled up and conducted on human hearts for the first time.

110957 web2Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Lab, Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

“Generating functional cardiac tissue involves meeting several challenges,” said Guyette. “These include providing a structural scaffold that is able to support cardiac function, a supply of specialised cardiac cells, and a supportive environment in which cells can repopulate the scaffold to form mature tissue capable of handling complex cardiac functions.”

In the study, which drew upon 73 human hearts authorised for scientific research, the researchers induced pluripotent cells to differentiate into around 500 million cardiac muscle cells (cardiomyocytes), then seeded them into the tissue of the decellularised hearts.

After several days in culture, the cardiomyocytes developed into spontaneously contracting tissue, which the researchers say represents the first regeneration of human heart muscle from pluripotent stem cells within a cell-free, human heart matrix. The beating organs were then mounted in an automator bioreactor system (pictured), which provides the muscle with a nutrient solution and reproduces certain conditions within a living heart.

The research might seem a bit grisly – the team is veering close to Re-Animatorterritory, after all – but the future applications for healthy, lab-grown organs hold a huge amount of promise.

“Among the next steps that we are pursuing are improving methods to generate even more cardiac cells – recellularising a whole heart would take tens of billions – optimising bioreactor-based culture techniques to improve the maturation and function of engineered cardiac tissue, and electronically integrating regenerated tissue to function within the recipient’s heart,” said Guyette.

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Malaria first spread from birds.


A new study published by researchers at the Cornell University in New York revealed that mosquito-borne disease Malaria first spread from birds to bats and then on to other mammals. For the study, researchers tested malarial DNA discovered in birds, bats and other small mammals from East African countries. Notably, the disease affected around 214 million people worldwide in 2015.

Extensive testing of malarial DNA revealed that malaria spread from birds to bats and on to other mammals

A file photo of a mosquito through a microscope. Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Photo: AP

A file photo of a mosquito through a microscope. Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes.

 The origins of malaria have been under scrutiny for years as researchers tried to find the roots of the disease. A new study now throws light on the evolution of malaria and found that the disease has its roots in birds.

Extensive testing of malarial DNA found in birds, bats and other small mammals from five East African countries revealed that malaria spread from birds to bats and on to other mammals, said the study published this week in the journalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

“We can’t begin to understand how malaria spread to humans until we understand its evolutionary history,” said lead author Holly Lutz, a doctoral candidate in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology and population medicine and diagnostic sciences at Cornell University.

“In learning about its past, we may be better able to understand the effects it has on us,” said Lutz.

After drawing blood samples from hundreds of East African birds, bats, and other small mammals, researchers screened the blood for the malarial parasites. When they found malaria in the blood samples, they took samples of the parasites’ DNA and sequenced it to identify mutations in the genetic code. After that, the researchers assessed how different malaria species are related, based on differences in their genetic code.

“Trying to determine the evolutionary history of malaria from just a few specimens would be like trying to reconstruct the bird family tree when you only know about eagles and canaries,” explained Lutz.

Malaria, which affected 214 million people worldwide in 2015, is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. The most deadly malarial parasite, P. falciparum, is most prevalent in Africa, where malaria cases and deaths are heavily concentrated.

“Malaria is notoriously adaptive to treatment, and its DNA holds a host of secrets about how it’s able to change and evolve. Having a better understanding of its evolutionary history could help scientists anticipate its future,” said co-author and Field Museum curator of mammals Bruce Patterson.

First vaccine against Rota virus launched in India


Aiming to slash the prevalence of violence-borne diarrhoea, the health ministry on Saturday launched the Rota Virus vaccine here, which will be available free of cost at public healthcare facilities, initially in four states.

Terming the occasion historic in the Indian health system,Health Minister JP Nadda said: “This is not a routine programme. This Rota Virus launch sets the goal in the field of Indian health system. By launching this, we aim to immunise 27 million children across the country to prevent diseases caused by Rota virus.”

Rota is a highly contagious virus that infects majority of children before their first birthday. It is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among children, leading to hospitalisation and death.

Nadda said that the government was aggressively working for the eradication of a slew of other diseases, including leprosy and TB.

“It is our duty to see that every child born in the country born is immunised against dreaded diseases,” he said.

The National Technical Advisory Group on vaccines had recommended the phased introduction of Rota virus vaccine in the country’s Universal Immunisation Programme.

In the first phase, Rota virus vaccine will be introduced in four States — Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. It will be provided at government health facilities to children from six weeks of age.

The vaccine was launched in Odisha as the state records high diarrhoea cases among children and deaths due to improper treatment.

“We are making appropriate investment, and this has been possible because we have an effective healthcare system with more and more facilities capable of providing the vaccine to the needy children,” said Health Ministry Additional Secretary C.K. Mishra.

Currently, 9.2 percent of Odisha’s total disease burdens consists of diarrhoea patients.

The infant mortality rate in Odisha is 51 per 1,000 live births, while the mortality rate of children under five years is 68 per 1,000 births, both far higher than in the other states where the Rota virus vaccine was launched in the first phase on Saturday.

The diarrhoea burden due to Rota virus in Andhra Pradesh stands at eight percent while the figure in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh is 8.5 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.

Globally there are 453,000 child deaths due to Rota virus every year. In India, Rota Virus diarrhoea causes about 78,000 deaths and about 8.7 lakh hospitalisations each year. Additionally, 32.7 lakh children under five years of age are treated as outpatients.

Wasabi’s Compounds Effective for Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells


Active ingredients in Wasabi or Japanese radish have demonstrated an ability to eliminate pancreatic cancer stem cells. The study was published in the journalEvidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Interesting journal title, isn’t it? These types of studies are done and are recorded, but very few publicize them.

Pancreatic cancer is considered one of the more difficult cancers to treat. It is also one of the more fatal cancers. The American Cancer Society projects this year, there will be about 48,960 people (24,840 men and 24,120 women) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And about 40,560 people (20,710 men and 19,850 women) will die from it. That’s well under a 10 percent survival.

This low survival rate for pancreatic cancer is within conventional cancer therapies, usually chemo. How many are killed by the chemo is unknown because death certificates usually fault the cancer and not the toxic treatments.

The pancreas is responsible for creating insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose (sugar) cellular metabolism. Perhaps this partially explains why folks with diabetics (type 2) are a high risk group for pancreatic cancer, according to the American Cancer Society

The pancreas also creates proteolytic enzymes, which are strong enough to break down whole animal proteins and break through cancer cells. Could be this is why heavy meat eaters are more prone to cancer and why cancer diets for healing inolve abstaining from sugar and meat.

Even after a chemotherapy carpet bombing, the cancer stem cells remain in their bunkers to create unimited cancer cells after temporary remissions are announced. Thus the importance of targeting cancer stem cells is paramount for treating cancer without harming healthy cells and opening the door for future cancers. This has been chemotherapy’s constant failure.

The Pancreatic Cancer Study Shared by Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo

The Taiwanese in vitro (lab glass non-animal) study, “Effect of Wasabi Component 6-(Methylsulfinyl) hexyl Isothiocyanate and Derivatives on Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells” determined how active wasabi ingredients actually targeted cancer stem cells and eliminated them.

Stem cells are the mother cells that create duplicates of itself. Chemotherapy doesn’t distinguish among stem cells, cancer cells created by stem cells, or even healthy cells. Chemo carpet bombing of one’s inner terrain results in a weakened immune system since nothing is done in conventional oncology to restore foundational health with a proper diet.

Here’s an excerpt from Sayer Ji’s report on the study, which is loaded with technical language:

The new study found that the two studied wasabi derived compounds (6-MITC and I7557) were capable of reducing the CSC (cancer stem cell) population and reducing the expression of a key CSC signaling molecule known as SOX2, which is a transcription factor found in both undifferentiated embryonic stem cells and cancer stem cells and which is essential for self-renewal and the cell’s ability to differentiate into other cell types (i.e. pluripotency). The study also found that wasabi derived compounds exhibited the following anti-cancer effects:

6-MITC and I7557 inhibited viability of both PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells.
6-MITC- and I7557 showed mitotic (cell division) arrest and apoptosis (programmed cell death) in morphological observation.
6-MITC and I7557 induced G2/M phase arrest and hypoploid population.
6-MITC and I7557 reduced percentages of ALDH-positive PANC-1 cells (Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity is a hallmark of CSCs[ii]).

The [study] authors concluded: “In conclusion, Wasabi compound 6-MITC and its chemical derivative I7557 may possess bioactivity against human pancreatic cancer cells, including the CSC population.

Spicy wasabi is not an easy item to consume in huge quantities, thus the extracts are key to providing efficacious safe treatments for pancreatic cancer. That could be the project of an adventurous nutraceutical or natural supplement company. But then the FDA would never allow it promote healing pancreatic cancer.

So I suspect with good reason that this study is likely arousing interest from a pharmaceutical company that is looking for a cancer stem cell targeting agency to carry it’s toxic high priced pharmaceutical chemotherapy drugs.

Never mind, there are natural alternative treatments that handle even pancreatic cancer. They’re just intentionally hidden from public awareness. More about that later. For now, hear the late great Dr. Gonzalez articulate the details of chemotherapy compared to non-conventional approaches such as his.